Rep. Michele Bachmann ( R-Minn.) and her husband Marcus wave to a crowd in Iowa after her formal announcement that she would seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

Minnesota congresswoman and GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is coming under fire from mental health professionals after ABC’s “Nightline” on Monday first aired a video released by gay rights group Truth Wins Out showing a therapist at a counseling center owned by Bachmann’s husband telling a gay client that he could convert to heterosexuality through prayer. Marcus Bachmann had previously denied that his counseling center offered so-called reparative therapy, which is opposed by the American Psychological Association.

From ABC News:

“This is so far outside the mainstream it’s practically on Mars,” said Dr. Jack Drescher, a psychiatrist who has written extensively on the practice of gay conversions. [...]

The “path for my therapy would be to read the Bible, pray to God that I would no longer be gay,” said Andrew Ramirez, who was 17 years old at the time he sought help from Bachmann & Associates in suburban Minneapolis. “And God would forgive me if I were straight.”

An undercover video shot by the group Truth Wins Out shows a Bachmann & Associates therapist telling a gay client that God designed men to be attracted to women, and with prayer and effort he could eventually become straight.

The congresswoman has declined to comment on the video but told a local television station in Iowa that she was “very proud” of their business, which she has previously touted her role in running. Requests for comment were not immediately answered Wednesday.

The controversy comes just days after Bachmann was criticized by gay rights activists for signing a conservative advocacy group’s pledge endorsing the view that homosexuality is a choice rather than a biological trait. The conservative group, The Family Leader, later apologized for asserting in the pledge that a black person born into slavery “was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American president.”

Marcus Bachmann has also drawn criticism recently for an interview he gave to a Christian radio talk show, in which he compared homosexuals to “barbarians” who “need to be educated, need to be disciplined.”

UPDATE 7/14/11, 1:02 p.m.: The Bachmann campaign Wednesday evening passed along the statement it first issued Monday to ABC:

Bachmann and Associates is a Christian counseling center that provides services to patients with a variety of counseling and mental health issues. They ask news media to respect the privacy of the relationship between patients and their therapist. As for specific treatments provided to its patients, those matters are protected by patient-client confidentiality. The Bachmanns are in no position ethically, legally, or morally to discuss specific courses of treatment concerning the clinic’s patients. The clinic honors and respects all people for whatever issue they come in for and if there is a conflict, they refer elsewhere.


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