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. foreverwar

    That was so thoughtful of her to care. As thanks, maybe gay people should get together and start a clinic to cure Michele Bachmann of her stupidity.

    July 13, 2011 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  2. logic in LA

    The real hypocrisy here is Madam Tea Party and her husband put this religious hokum into medicare for payment as health treatment! Not only is she marketing religious instruction as healthcare, much as revival tent heretics,but they are getting funds from the government for it- The same funds she wants cut for legitimate needs.
    I guess she would know there is waste in the program- she is the abuser!

    July 13, 2011 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  3. Doug

    The progessives and gays here are complete hypocrites, what you wish would happen to Republicans is just as evil as the biggest ultra religious homophobes.

    A celebration in NYC for gays finaly being able to get married and all over the place are those Os, one sided political support for a guy who himself is against gay marriage. Meanwhile a majority of these attending would at the very least wish me and my family harm for being a conservative, even though I supported gay marriage like many other Republicans.

    July 13, 2011 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  4. 0440

    This is absolutly disgusting. I can't believe that people actually think that being gay is a sickness..... Gays are born this way and they are allowed to love whoever they wish to.

    July 13, 2011 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  5. liz

    So the Bachmann's think you can cure gay? When are they going to come up with a diet with no shellfish & pork?

    July 13, 2011 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  6. Thomas

    Hopefully the poor gays can be treated successfully of their problem.

    July 13, 2011 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  7. CF

    Is there a cure for stupid?

    July 13, 2011 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  8. Jersey George

    I'm surprised Ed Rollins, a rather smart and savvy republican political consultant, has joined the the Michele Bachmann freak show. Guess he needs the money.

    July 13, 2011 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  9. jimmy23

    Another republican candidate?!? Quick, Activate the homophobe alert machine!!! Find a statement to use against them!!! We must motivate our mindless base of droning ism-seeking zombies (racism, sexism, homophobism...) to attack at the polls. We must feed the zombie hordes twisted data or they may fall into zombie hibernation fail to swarm the polls. ARISE OH ZOMBIE HORDE!!!!

    July 13, 2011 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  10. DJ

    I keep hoping our society will stop thumping bibles and quoting archaic things written by humans (not God) thousands of years ago and just follow a few basic commandments: Be decent to one another (which would cover murder and coveting the neighbor's wife), and "Do not demand everyone else be just like you, because you ain't so special, baby"... But that's never gonna happen, I'm afraid.

    July 13, 2011 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  11. John

    And to think this is the type of person that is running for president of the U.S. My question would be to the American people, are we that stupid or are we just caught up in a whirl wind of controversy with corrupt politicians & such that we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. Why can't people just leave others alone, why is it that someone else is always in line to tell me what is good for me, when it is something I don't want. I could go on and on, but this is another class example of what our society is coming to, people running for office that want to push their agenda on everyone else. GET A LIFE BACHMAN

    July 13, 2011 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  12. nmr2001

    Ok, so let's assume that it is possible to "convert" a person from gay to straight. All you fundamentalist Christians who support this, are you telling me that you would allow one of your children to marry someone who has been "converted"? You truly believe, with all your heart, that this person will remain faithful to their spouse and will be a good partner in life? They will be happy and share their happiness with their spouse and their children? They will raise well adjusted families? They won't suppress their true feelings with drugs or alcohol? Really???? This is what you believe???

    July 13, 2011 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  13. Donald in CA

    Where do the right wing tea party folks find these crazies, then try to make them president. I guess having a black president have run them all crazy, lord help us.

    July 13, 2011 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  14. bashaleebee

    If her and her husband's practice is as unethical and possibly illegal or she is taking government hand-outs then perhaps her running for office is the best thing to expose her. The right demanded Obama's birth certificate in full form, then why can't We the Other People Demand the Bachmanns divulge their business practices ... everything as long it doesn't cross the lines into patient privacy. We can do that and not let up until we get what we want. The right is right about one thing, the left is weak ... and it's time the left step up and give the right their own medicine. In this case it should be the people's right to know.

    July 13, 2011 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  15. bashaleebee

    I wonder how many failed cases at this center wound up attempting suicide?

    July 13, 2011 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  16. tommyy

    I will not vote for this person. She signs documents before reading them and will not answer a simple question. She cannot be President.

    July 13, 2011 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  17. someoneelse

    I'm sure others have said it, but we need to cure people of religion, not homosexuality.

    July 13, 2011 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  18. kay

    Don't worry, Bachmann doesn't have a chance at getting the nomination. They're just keeping her around for laughs until the real candidates show up.

    July 13, 2011 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  19. Me

    If you don't like gay marriage blame straight people, they're the ones who keep having gay babies.

    July 13, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  20. Reason & Logic

    Well this is a deal breaker. This dirty little secret will blow right up in her face on the campaign trail.

    July 13, 2011 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  21. Eric

    Thank God that someone is trying to help these poor people.. hopefully next are the pitiful liberals

    July 13, 2011 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  22. Wise1Speak


    It is hypocritical for Bachmann to wail against federal government assistance when she and her husband take federal welfare to run their fake youth clinic; especially when their clinic use federal funds to discriminate against gays.

    July 13, 2011 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  23. Matthew Hall

    It suppose its fair. I've had a "Tea Party Rehabilitation Clinic" going for almost a year now. Its been very successful if I say so myself!

    July 13, 2011 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  24. Mtnmedic

    You can't fix stupid.

    July 13, 2011 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  25. jamison

    Before she cures gays (HA HA) she needs to cure insanity in her own family. Anyone who thinks this women is intelligent and should be President, also needs to have their heads examined.

    July 13, 2011 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
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