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. Tired of the noise

    I don't want a bigot as my President. Period. Also, why is it that every right-leaning conservative Christian feels that it's their duty as Christians to save everyone from homosexuals by pointing out the several places in the Bible where the immorality of homosexuality is discussed, but they somehow forget the places in the Bible where it says to treat others as you would have them treat you, love thy neighbor, and, most importantly, that God is the only one with the right to judge. Pick the book up and read it again, but this time, pay attention. And stop trying to save the world. It's already been done.

    July 13, 2011 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    these politicians never fell to discuss me with passion ...
    they are a bunch of sickos who happen to go for the positions, and control our sorry country ...
    shame on us all to let them do this unopposed ...

    July 14, 2011 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  3. LouAz

    Shouldn't this "report' be in CNNs Belief Blog ?

    July 14, 2011 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  4. Jackson

    Can I start a clinic that uses this same therapy to reform all conservatives, so that they aren't conservative anymore.

    After all, hey, being conservative is a choice, right? Let's teach them how to suppress these desires.

    July 14, 2011 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  5. CTTexas

    I think we need to "cure" Bachmann.

    July 14, 2011 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  6. Spiffy

    This is why religious nuts should never become president. My feeling is that anyone who believes in an all powerful being that tells them specifically what to do should never be president. Well anyone who believes in God in my opinion should not be president. But you must work with what you got

    July 14, 2011 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  7. Psychologist

    Dr., uh, Markus Bachmann (unlicensed), a purse just fell out of your mouth. Did you buy it with federal funding?

    July 14, 2011 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  8. SSampson

    With messed up people like this in powerful positions.... the debt is the least of our problems – these are the people that promote free speech as long as it is something THEY support; these arethe book burners. These are the people that we fought wars against to avoid this repressive ideology – If this continues, I'm going to pack up my wagon and head somewhere else – I am tired of fighting against these lunatics that have brainwashed half the country....Let them implode – I'll go somewhere more progessive – plenty of choices....It makes me just sad

    July 14, 2011 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  9. Carl

    I guess she can't cure moronism lol

    July 14, 2011 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  10. TurdThrower

    Too bad there's no cure for stupidity. I'd like to send Bachmann to that clinic.

    July 14, 2011 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  11. dani

    Well, if she becomes president, then I am 100 percent certain The world will end in December..

    July 14, 2011 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  12. just checking

    They sure get alot of government monies for their so-called business, 125,000 for one, 250,000 for their farm in subsidies, and several thousand for another business.... No wonder she thinks government should stay out of peoples affairs...someone should check them out....

    July 14, 2011 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  13. chris

    To say you can never change is the most depressing thought in the history of the world.

    July 14, 2011 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  14. Keith

    My question is........Does this mean her clinic can turn str8 people Gay as well? My only hope is she gets some fashion types from the gays before she changes them. Not sure I would want my first female president dressing like a man.

    July 14, 2011 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  15. Kornelia Strong

    Does she compare running a small business to running a country like the US!? LOL =DDD

    It seems Bachman wants to fix every thing with prayers? That's nice, I hope that her prayers will provide her with the help she needs.

    If she thinks that "gayness" can be cured with prayers, or any other way, then she believes that pigs can fly and that she can fix what brother Bush screwed up with diligent prayers, LOL. ; ) 😉

    July 14, 2011 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  16. surfninja

    If the Bachmanns really wanted to make themselves useful, they'd open a clinic to "cure" Tea-Baggers.

    July 14, 2011 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  17. Melissa

    I live in her district and I sincerely hope she runs for President so she will have to give up her senate seat here. She is an embarrassment and I want her out of office. And I do not believe there is ANY chance she could win a Presidential election.

    July 14, 2011 03:37 am at 3:37 am |
  18. realistic

    please stop telling our teenagers it's wrong to be gay. they were born that way and they tend to commit suicide when they are ostracized. of course the people who put their lives in danger be it from suicide or violent killers believe they are doing the right thing for God. JERKS!

    July 14, 2011 04:00 am at 4:00 am |
  19. Dee

    As a gay man I welcome this woman as the Republican candidate for president. It's time we have it out once and for all with these religious zealots about their feelings on gay people and expose them for who they truly are, bigots in every sense of the word, hiding behind ideology. These people need to understand, our closet doors are open and there's no room in there for us any longer!

    July 14, 2011 04:06 am at 4:06 am |
  20. MattStarrs

    Why the misquote? He didn't say God would do it, he said the therapy would do it! I guess without the "god factor" the sexiness and interest for a lot of people just isn;t there!
    ""If I did this and worked his therapy program, God [that] would perform a miracle and I could no longer be gay," Ramirez added he was told."

    July 14, 2011 04:10 am at 4:10 am |
  21. me

    She is running for President, not her husuband.

    July 14, 2011 04:26 am at 4:26 am |
  22. Mary

    i think it's scary how much traction this nut has received..She could be the next president.God help us all

    July 14, 2011 05:14 am at 5:14 am |
  23. kevin g

    I was a big fan of hers to run for President at least a year ago before it was popular. But now her coming out with this Anti Gay and Porno is not smart at all and whoever hercampaign adviser is must be working for the other side. Bachmann is toast now.Or she is going the way of the Donald now and just getting things off her chest and not real serious about running.She should of stuck to what she has been saying the last couple of years that got her notice now with this new out of left field stuff she just cooked herself. I wouldn't be surprised if Bachmann drops out in the near future. I think I'm going to start to support Rick Santorum now.

    July 14, 2011 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  24. CN

    Even if it was a conscious decision (to be homosexual), who cares?

    If I like hamburgers (or "choose to like hamburgers"), then it's none of your business. You can be a dietician, vegan, etc.–you're still not going to impose your beliefs on me, nor should you.

    July 14, 2011 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  25. cregis

    I want to know if this Bachmann clinic gets Medicare and Medicaid payments. If they do accept government payments, doesn't that make her a hypocrite? Does our government pay for these ridiculous religious "treatments"? Of course, Bachmann could write them up as something else.

    July 14, 2011 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
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