What's going on at the Bachmann clinic?
July 12th, 2011
09:09 PM ET
8 years ago

What's going on at the Bachmann clinic?

Lake Elmo, MN (CNN)-In her campaign for president, Michele Bachmann touts her background as a small business owner.

"A small business job creator," is how the Minnesota Congresswoman and Republican Presidential candidate described herself in her first campaign ad in Iowa.

That business is Bachmann and Associates. It's a Christian counseling service located outside Minneapolis. Bachmann started the center with her husband, Marcus who is the lead counselor at the clinic. The aspiring first couple and their children are pictured on the center's web site.

For at least five years, Bachmann and Associates has faced accusations it uses a controversial therapy that encourages gay and lesbian patients to change their sexual orientation.

Andrew Ramirez, a former patient at Bachmann and Associates, said in an interview with CNN he witnessed the practice first-hand. In 2004, Ramirez turned to the clinic at the urging of his mother who wanted him to talk about his homosexuality.

Just 17 at the time, Ramirez said he was immediately skeptical of what one of the clinic's counselors told him.

"It was therapy that would help me change from being homosexual to straight," Ramirez said. "If I did this and worked his therapy program, God would perform a miracle and I could no longer be gay," Ramirez added he was told.

Ramirez was assigned a therapy program consisting of prayer, reading Bible passages, and mentoring with an ex-lesbian minister. If none of that worked, Ramirez said the counselor had another suggestion.

"Not acting out on my same sex attractions and living a life of celibacy," Ramirez said.

After the second session, Ramirez told his mother, Beth Shellenbarger, he wanted to stop the therapy.

"And I could just hear his voice quiver and I just said, 'you know, Andy, if you're good with being gay then I am too,'" Shellenbarger said.

The American Psychological Association is sharply critical of efforts by counselors to change a patient's sexual orientation, what's known in the mental health community as "reparative therapy."

"There is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation," one APA report said.

Marcus Bachmann has suggested parents of gay teenagers can turn to religion for help.

In an interview last year with the "Point of View" talk radio program, Bachmann was asked how parents should deal with a teenager who thinks he or she is gay.

"I think you clearly say 'what is the understanding of God's word on homosexuality,'" Bachmann said. "We have to understand barbarians need to be educated. They need to be disciplined and just because someone feels it or thinks it doesn't mean we're supposed to go down that road," he continued.

In 2006, Bachmann denied his clinic engaged in reparative therapy to "City Pages," a Minneapolis newspaper. "That's a false statement," Bachmann said. "If someone is interested in talking to us about their homosexuality, we are open to talking about that. But if someone comes in a homosexual and they want to stay homosexual, I don't have a problem with that," he continued.

This week, a gay rights group called "Truth Wins Out" released to CNN a hidden camera video recorded by one of its activists who posed as a patient at Bachmann and Associates.

In the video reviewed by CNN, a counselor can be heard suggesting homosexuality can be treated at the center, to varying degrees of success.

"You can actually leave homosexuality completely and become heterosexual?" the undercover activist asked on the video. "Definitely," the counselor responded. "It's happened before. It really has," the counselor added.

But the counselor cautioned he is not an expert on the subject.

"I don't have a ton of experience with this. I mean, a little bit here and there," the counselor added.
Michele Bachmann has a long history of controversial views on homosexuality.

As a senator in the Minnesota legislature in 2004, Bachmann called for an amendment to the state constitution that would block gay marriages in other states from being recognized in Minnesota.

"If we allow this to happen, group marriage, polygamy, and much worse would not be far behind," Bachmann said in a video to her supporters.

In an appeal to socially conservative Iowa voters earlier this month, she signed a "Marriage Vow" pledge that also equated same sex couples with polygamists.

Both Bachmann and her husband declined to discuss the clinic's practices. A secretary at the clinic referred all questions to the Bachmann presidential campaign. A sign on the center's door says "no media."

A statement released by her presidential campaign said the Bachmanns were unable to comment on the clinic's practices out of respect for its patients.

"The Bachmann's are in no position ethically, legally, or morally to discuss specific courses of treatment concerning the clinic's patients," the statement said.

The issue has followed Bachmann onto the campaign trail. Asked about the clinic's practices at an event in Iowa Monday, Bachmann dodged the question.

"Well, I'm running for the presidency of the United States. And I'm here today to talk about job creation," Bachmann told WHO-TV. "We're very proud of the business that we've created," she added.

Filed under: 2012 • Gay rights • Michele Bachmann
soundoff (811 Responses)
  1. Blessed Geek

    Psychological and psychiatric "intervention" can turn a gay gay into a straightly depressed gay.

    July 12, 2011 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  2. Blessed Geek

    Hello testing.

    July 12, 2011 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  3. Theperson

    Finally someone stands up for their beliefs! I'm completely behind her thoughts on the subject! Amen Lady!

    July 12, 2011 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  4. blue

    is this another palin clone?

    July 12, 2011 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  5. indyreader

    Dominionist. If you're not familiar with the word, look it up, and realize that this woman poses a danger to civil liberties and our free society. She doesn't deserve a position of any more authority than toll-booth attendant on the Jersey Turnpike.

    July 12, 2011 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    The barbarians need to be disciplined eh Marcus? The only barbarians I see are in your camp.

    July 12, 2011 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  7. Amber

    She's got my vote!

    July 12, 2011 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  8. Andrew

    What purpose in this life could Bachman possibly have for telling millions of Americans who happen to be gay, that they are less of people than herself? They're not and Bachman's pandering to the political christian do-gooders with long snoopy and judgemental noses, is sucky wrong and stupid idiot political hacker fodder. Plus, it's dead wrong and everybody knows it, but now its worked its way up to a presidential canidate, whose in trouble for lying for money with her hand on the Bible.

    July 12, 2011 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  9. scott

    You know you can carpet bomb and carpet bomb and carpet bomb a place for so long and then slowly at a steady pace life comes back to establish a foothold once more well the american people will use what god gave them good judgement and free will to make the right call when the Bachmans say the bible this the bible that they dont say that god also gave the gift of free will for man and woman to choose right and wrong in the life they live so i have learned that omitting parts of the truth is the same as lying no matter how a person dont say it .

    July 12, 2011 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  10. CitizenJP

    What do you call someone who is running for the highest office of the land and holds the following beliefs:
    – slaves were better off than free men.
    – founding fathers were fighting slavery tooth and nail
    – does not have her history straight
    – cannot stick to facts but makes up facts as suits
    – homosexuality is a disease
    – it is okay to sign important documents without knowing what you are signing (ya, right!)
    – nonwhites have falsified birth certificates

    I could not come up with a catchy name for

    July 12, 2011 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  11. Jamie J

    Nice business. Preach fear then offer salvation. Bit like the tire salesman spreading tacks on surrounding roads.

    July 12, 2011 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  12. George

    She should check herself in because she's the one who is sick.

    July 12, 2011 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  13. Eardley Ham Woodbury, MN

    This sort of voodoo certainly fits with the Bachmann clan. All nuttier than a herd of squirrels in an acorn factory. By all means, she is qualified to be the POTUS. And pigs fly.

    July 12, 2011 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  14. George

    It's funny how people think you can change your sexual orientation. If you think you can choose to be a homo, then you are a homo. If you think you can't choose to be homo, then what you're saying is that it is not a choice. Leave it alone, move on just live we've moved on from race.

    July 12, 2011 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  15. Wzrd1

    "As a senator in the Minnesota legislature in 2004, Bachmann called for an amendment to the state constitution that would block gay marriages in other states from being recognized in Minnesota."
    So, Bachmann is unhappy with a REQUIREMENT for each state to recognize the privileges and immunities of another state, as is required in article IV, section 2 of the US const i tution. Is she then saying that the state of Minnesota is withdrawing from the union?

    July 12, 2011 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  16. Shadysider

    She's a member of a government subsidized family while being anti-government spending. She's married to an anti-gay crusading closeted husband. She is a social crusader who is the nominee of what was supposed to be a purely fiscally responsible movement. She is a sham.

    July 12, 2011 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  17. MJ

    This is some crazy religious infused Nazi stuff, reminds of the experiments Nazis did on homosexuals, except they have replaced 'science' with 'religion' what a crazy group of individuals... Bachmanns vision for America is a return to the stone ages, it would be a shame to have her as our first female president

    July 12, 2011 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  18. MIke smith

    Since the Bachman family gets my tax dollars for their phony consulting firm, I can only hope that this is one of those programs congress will cut. What a flim- flam artist. Its made worse in that the middle class is paying for the rich to fleece us with their voodoo theories on psychology. Have these phony debt reduction advocates no shame?

    July 12, 2011 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  19. Squigman

    Mind control. That;s what happens behind the walls. And this P.O.S., wants to be your leader. Not a chance.

    July 12, 2011 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  20. s kel

    i have allways known how erratic bachman is but damn, this is who the tea party wants to run this country, oh my God, this is beyond bad. this women is an actual danger to this country.

    July 12, 2011 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  21. GonzoG

    After gays and lesbians, these people will want to 'cure' other people...Liberals, Democrats, Muslims, malcontents, heretics, Mormons, Catholics, and Jews. We'll all get "cured" or live our lives out in "curative camps".

    See this person for what she is...a member of an ultra-controlling sect of Evangelical Christians who cannot accept that others CHOOSE to live outside the lines they draw for themselves.

    Elect these people and enough of their friends and you WILL eventually give up the FREEDOMS your forefathers bled for–You will be forced to believe as they believe and live in a New American Theocracy, every bit as controlling and power mad as the Iranian Theocracy.

    If there IS a Great Beast of Revelation–he does not pray to anyone with horns. He gets up and says his prayers to Almighty God. He THINKS that God wants HIM to enforce God's Will on earth. He THINKS by doing so he is saving OUR souls. He is DELUDED by the idea that God cannot tolerate ANY idea that do not adhere to his particular beliefs. He BELIEVES that he will do GOOD in the world. And he is as EVIL as any DICTATOR ever was.

    July 12, 2011 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  22. Chris

    All you need to run in American politics is a Bible and a Gun. Oh and of course a homophobics spouse.

    July 12, 2011 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  23. Thomas A Martinet

    Michele Bachmann=Fruit Cake

    July 12, 2011 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  24. Homie Hogleg

    She lost my vote. I was leaning towards voting for her, but her religious views push me away. If the republican party would put someone out there that was fiscally conservative, and libertarian socially, I would vote for them. Oh Yeah, they did.

    Ron Paul.

    That is who I will be voting for in the primary.

    July 12, 2011 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  25. Prince T

    The main question has anyone been cured before throug the counselling method or we just want to shut it down. They should find out about that because i have seen and met with an ex gay

    July 12, 2011 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
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