Bachmann Signs On to Virulently Anti-Gay Group’s Agenda

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Saturday July 9, 2011

An anti-gay Iowa group headed by the same individual who spearheaded last year's successful campaign to oust three justices from that state's supreme court for ruling in favor of marriage equality has issued a pledge that attacks sexual minorities on several fronts and hails large families.

The 14-point pledge also suggests that it should be the government's job to control what people see, hear, and read, and takes aim at the Muslim faith. The first contender for the GOP nod for next year's presidential race has already signed on to the pledge, reported local newspaper the Iowa Independent. It's Michele Bachmann.

As a presidential hopeful, Bachmann has said both that she would support a federal Constitutional amendment to bar marriage equality for gay and lesbian American families, and that she would be inclined to leave issues such as marriage up to each state to decide for itself.

A July 8 Daily Beast article posted at MSNBC called the pledge "wacky," and noted that the pledge signed by Bachmann "commits her to fighting not only gay marriage, abortion, and 'quickie divorce,' but also 'all forms of pornography.'

"The pledge goes on to imply that African-American families were in some ways better off under slavery than they are today, and argues that homosexuality can be cured," the Daily Beast article noted.

The pledge was created by extremist right religious group The Family Leader, which is headed by Bob Vander Plaats, who led the campaign last year to see several Iowa State Supreme Court justices replaced when they came up for retention votes.

Vander Plaats targeted the justices because of the court’s unanimous finding that a state law barring marriage equality conflicted with the state’s constitution. That finding opened the door to same-sex marriage in Iowa, the first heartland state to permit marriage parity for gays and lesbians.

"Vander Plaats has sworn not to endorse anyone who doesn’t sign his pledge, titled ’The Marriage Vow: A Declaration of Dependence upon Marriage and the Family,’ " the Daily Beast Article reported.

The religious group has given candidates a deadline of Aug. 1 to sign on.

"The candidates who sign it will be pledging not only to ’vigorously’ oppose marriage equality, but to be faithful to their own spouse," a July 8 On Top Magazine article reported.

"The pledge ironically also asks candidates to have ’Respect for the marital bonds of others,’ " the article added.

"Married people enjoy better health," Vander Plaats stated. "They enjoy better sex, longer lives, greater financial stability, and children raised by a mother and father together experience better learning, less addiction, less legal trouble and less extramarital pregnancy."

Those claims, often repeated by anti-gay activists, are drawn from studies of children raised by single mothers. But studies looking at children of two-parents of the same sex show that they fare just as well as, and in some respects may fare better than, children raised by two heterosexual parents.

Vander Plaats’ group excoriated gays in the course the 14-point pledge. Among other things, the pledge demands that GOP candidates uphold the notion that marriage equality is somehow linked to unrelated issues such as polygamy. The pledge further asks candidates to oppose the inclusion of openly gay and lesbian service member in the U.S. Armed Forces, and suggests that gays are attracted to others of the same gender as a matter of choice.

Moreover, the Independent article said, the pledge accuses gays of being "a public health risk."

Though much of the pledge concerns itself with gays, the 14 points also take aim at heterosexual, decrying promiscuity and demanding that candidates vow to fight for the censorship of pornography, framing the issues in the context of protecting women and children.

In addition to all of that, the pledge requires candidates to promise to fight any hint of Islamic law becoming part of the U.S. code, calling Muslim Sharia law a "form of totalitarian control," the Independent reported.

Bachmann unhesitatingly signed on to the pledge on July 7, the same day it was introduced, the article noted.

Bachmann is a Tea Party favorite and one of the most popular GOP contenders for the nomination, outranking all others in the crowded field except for Mitt Romney. The rest trail far behind Bachmann and Romney.

But Bachmann is also one of the most anti-gay candidates. Moreover, her husband, Marcus Bachmann, has resurfaced in headlines recently for an interview with a Christian radio broadcaster in which he declared that gays are "barbarians" who need "discipline," lest they convert schoolchildren into "sinful" homosexuals and otherwise destroy American society. Marcus Bachmann also advocated for anti-gay "action steps."

"We have to understand: Barbarians need to be educated," Marcus Bachmann said on the May 12, 2010 broadcast of "Point of View," a radio show that purports to promote a "biblical Christian worldview."

"They need to be disciplined," Bachmann continued. "Just because someone feels it or thinks it doesn’t mean that we are supposed to go down that road. That’s what is called the sinful nature. We have a responsibility as parents and as authority figures not to encourage such thoughts and feelings from moving into the action steps."

The Los Angeles Times noted that Marcus Bachmann apparently believes that it’s possible for gayness to be spread like a contagion, and has suggested that children are at risk of being converted into gays and lesbians at school.

"What is our culture, what is our public education system doing today?" Bachmann said. "They are giving full, wide-open doors to children, not only giving encouragement to think it but to encourage action steps. That’s why when we understand what truly the percentage of homosexuals in this country is, it is small. But by these open doors, I can see and we are experiencing, that it is starting to increase."

Marcus Bachmann is a clinical therapist with what he has called "A Christian counseling agency that has 26 Christian, pro-life, pro-family, pro-marriage counselors," who believes that "when you get a counselor asking the confused, ’How do you feel?" we are really making a mistake." Rather, Bachmann believes that counselors should take control of their patients:

"That’s not what should drive the car, the ship, or whatever," Bachmann said of the feelings of counseling clients during his "Point of View" appearance. "What should drive us are the undeniable truth and the Godly principles of truth in God’s word... I think we really need to call sin, sin. And too often we find counselors and friend that will absolutely excuse a person and allow their feelings to take charge... "

The question of whether Bachmann translates his anti-gay stance into attempts to "cure" gays is unclear, but Ex-Gay Watch noted in a July 1 article that, "In an MSNBC report, The Daily Beast’s David Graham alleges that Bachmann has practiced reparative therapy. When asked whether Bachmann believed in a ’gay cure,’ Graham said he hadn’t explicitly admitted it, but ’that appears to be his attitude.’ "

Questions about Michele Bachmann’s stated beliefs regarding small government have also come into the news, with the candidate’s sincerity in question given the large sums of government money that have seemingly flowed into the business she runs with her husband, with more federal money also going to a farm belonging to her family.

The Los Angeles Times reported on June 26 that business interests belonging to the Bachmann family had received considerable government funds, a state of affairs that runs contrary to Michele Bachmann’s purported belief in small government.

It also reported that Michele Bachmann "and her family have benefited personally from government aid," with her husband’s clinic taking in Medicaid money and a "family farm in Wisconsin, in which the congresswoman is a partner, receiv[ing] nearly $260,000 in federal farm subsidies."

Though none of the funds from the government was obtained illegally, MSNBC anchor "Thomas Roberts also notes that Marcus Bachmann received over $130,000 in US public money last year to fund therapy, and he questions whether government money has been paying for gay-to-straight treatment," the Ex-Gay Watch posting said.

A June 28 MSNBC article also noted that Marcus Bachmann had been collecting Medicaid money since 2005, totaling over $137,000 -- even as his wife has made a point of attacking Medicaid for doling out cash.

"The previously unreported payments are on top of the $24,000 in federal and state funds that Bachmann & Associates, the clinic founded by Marcus Bachmann... received in recent years under a state grant to train its employees, state records show," the MSNBC article said.

"The $161,000 in payments from the Minnesota Department of Human Services to her husband’s clinic appear to contradict some of Michelle Bachmann’s public accounts this week when she was first asked about the extent to which her family has benefited from government aid," the MSNBC article noted.

"She’s giving hypocrisy a bad name," the head of Families USA, Ron Pollock, told MSNBC. "It’s clear when it feathers her nest she’s happy for Medicaid expenditures. But people that really need it -- folks with disabilities and seniors -- she’s turning their backs on them."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.