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. Anonymous

    What is the problem with the clinic? It is a "Chrisitan" counseling service – ofcourse those who come are going to get counseling from a Christian perspective (not a secular one). If someone who is gay wants to find a counselor who is going to affirm their lifestyle choices, then they should go to a secular counseling service, not a Chrisitan counseling service. This is a media drummed up issue that is ridiculous.

    July 13, 2011 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  2. Larry

    1) Some people seem to think that homosexuals can be pressured/coerced to act or try to be straight, but not the other way around. Or they think that homosexuals can just be unaware or confused about their sexuality until they "come out" to themselves and discover that they are "gay", but, again, not the other way around. I think that many people who think they are homosexual, or, for whatever reason, have engaged in homosexual activities and relationships, would be happier being straight, able to marry someone of the opposite sex, and have children with their wife or husband.
    2) Helping people who suffer from homosexualism is the compassionate thing to do, especially if they themselves are requesting help.

    July 13, 2011 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  3. Take That

    Oh look, another evangelical Christian wackaloon. I wouldn't be surprised if she has Pat Robertson on speed dial.

    July 13, 2011 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  4. Knight

    Well, that kind of views will lose you an election even before it starts- has anyone told this woman that homosexuals have a vote, too?

    July 13, 2011 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  5. jim

    Why continue and waste your money honey?

    July 13, 2011 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  6. Carramea

    Another GOP hypocrite.. Criticize public aid but take the bucks when it come to their own pocketbook. I cant believe that Minnesota Public Aid pays for this sham

    July 13, 2011 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  7. smc

    I just want to know if Bachmann's husband really has a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Union Graduate School? When did they offer this degree?

    July 13, 2011 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  8. runner305

    Bachmann wants to take us back to the Middle Ages! Being gay is NOT a disease. It is not usually something that one "becomes". Overwhelmingly, a person is born gay. I'm not gay, but I've known many people throughout the years that are. My dentist is. So what? I don't see him to have sex; he's my dentist, for goodness sakes. No big deal !

    July 13, 2011 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  9. Stephen

    Is this "clinic" receiving federal money?

    July 13, 2011 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  10. GB

    Regardless of what you think of the rest of this article, the writer is trying to suggest that "a therapy program consisting of prayer, reading Bible passages, and mentoring" is considered psychological intervention by the APA. So, all counseling or reading of self-help books of any kind would qualify, too?

    July 13, 2011 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  11. Belingo

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

    LOL, that's why you go to a hospital and ask them what treatment options they have for your medical condition and they'll say "well, we can't tell you that. Trust us though, it's good."

    Technically, this story is a huge thing, but then again, how many Bachmann supporters will actually be shocked by it? Independents on the other hand... Well, we'll see.

    July 13, 2011 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  12. Bill Graham

    So that's her idea of a business? How is it any better than community organizing in terms of actual job experience? Has she ever had a real job?

    July 13, 2011 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  13. Justin Observation

    Anyone surprised? She's a severe religious fundamentalist. That's just the way they think.

    July 13, 2011 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  14. mark

    So Bachmann is against using goverment funds on stem cell research but has no issues with using it so she can "cure" gays?

    How is she not violating separation of church and state??

    July 13, 2011 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  15. kormallain

    Omg, are these people real? "We have to understand barbarians need to be educated." Barbarians? These views are pretty scarry. Anyone who is not like them, are barbariens now.

    July 13, 2011 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  16. Bryan Ryan

    If she is so much into "job creation" and doesnt want to talk about her clinic curing "homosexuals" then why did she sign the pledge which forbids gay marriage. This woman is a complete disgrace to humanity. She used her child's death to gain sympathy votes what a disgusting filth she is.

    July 13, 2011 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  17. JerseyJ9

    Whenever that woman opens her mouth the opposite is true!

    July 13, 2011 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  18. Starman

    If you don't want to be gay, just pray it away.

    July 13, 2011 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  19. jaer


    dont let this family anywhere near our whitehouse

    July 13, 2011 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  20. jeb

    Once she is out of the protective custody of Iowa she has real problems. Voters in NH won't buy this stuff.

    July 13, 2011 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  21. RinMaine

    It is all secret because it is how they siphon funds from the campaign into their personal wealth. It is illegal (surprise!) but that is what this is all about. The Bachmanns are dangerous and unprincipled people. The only good thing is that she can get about 30% of the vote and screw people who are even more dangerous. She will say anything and do anything.

    July 13, 2011 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  22. SQLCH82

    I don't care about gay issues, but this is not what this business is about. I believe the appropriate term to describe it would be "scam". I think it's a disgrace that someone who is running for POTUS relates to such a line of work. You have those who are trying to conform to YOUR idea of normality, putting their hope in the hands of this "business", for what? So that god can do something for them? Are you joking?

    Bachmann and co., you represent what is wrong with religion when people like you go about using it to push their own agenda. You are despicable.

    July 13, 2011 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  23. Eric

    "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."

    I'm pretty sure that polygamy is in the Bible and was practiced by some of its main characters.

    July 13, 2011 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  24. Robert MN

    And to think that the Republicans are thinking this is a viable presidential candidate... it makes me sick!

    July 13, 2011 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  25. Toad

    I don't think anybody knows what's really going on in the clinic. Michele keeps dodging the guestions. These people scare me and a investigation should be done on the clinic!

    July 13, 2011 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
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