By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com May 29 2013 10:42 AM ET
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, the antigay Minnesota Tea Party darling and onetime GOP presidential hopeful, announced that she will not seek reelection late Tuesday night in a scripted video posted on her website.
In the eight-minute video, Bachmann never explicitly mentions why she won't be running, but she does promise constituents that her decision "was not influenced by any concerns about my being reelected," nor was it "impacted in any way by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign."
Bachmann's campaign organization, from her unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, is being investigated for campaign finance law violations by the Office of Congressional Ethics, the Federal Election Commission, and the FBI, according to MinnPost. But she contends that has nothing to do with her decision not to seek reelection.
With Bachmann's departure from Congress, LGBT activists will be crossing their fingers that one of the most antigay figures in Republican politics will be leaving the spotlight — although there's always the chance she could resurface by running again for president, for example, or by challenging Sen. Al Franken in Minnesota.
The litany of offensive statements papers over the real harm she has caused LGBT people in her state and nationwide.
Bachmann's Pride in Defining Marriage
After being called by God (her words) to introduce a ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage in her state, Bachmann became the face of a coalition of conservatives driven to bar same-sex couples from marrying. The fear was that a state court would strike down Minnesota's Defense of Marriage Act, so the amendment would provide a way to prevent affording same-sex couples the right to marry. "This new legal enforcement of a new status, a same-sex marriage status — homosexuality, lesbianism, bringing it into the mainstream, if you will, giving it a legitimacy if you will, that will impact not only the gay community, but every man, woman, and child, particularly the schools," Bachmann theorized in 2011. That effort in 2004 ended up failing, and it failed again when she tried to introduce the same idea in 2005. Now the state has gone in an entirely different direction and passed marriage equality.
The Suicide Contagion Congresswoman
Bachmann's district was once designated a “suicide contagion area” by state public health officials after a string of deaths. The Anoka-Hennepin School District, which became a worst-case scenario of what can happen without antibullying policies, is in Bachmann's congressional district. And she barely acknowledged the problem, only meeting with the mother of one dead student after a petition racked up more than 140,000 signatures and Rep. Nancy Pelosi called out Bachmann for failing to address a major problem in her district.
Until that meeting, Bachmann's most public comments on bullying came in 2006 before the Minnesota Education Committee, saying that “there have always been bullies, always have been, always will be."
“I just don't know how we're ever going to get to point of zero tolerance, and what does it mean?” Bachmann said during the hearing. “What will be our definition of bullying? Will it get to the point where we are completely stifling free speech and expression? Will it mean that what form of behavior will there be — will we be expecting boys to be girls?"
Tammy Aaberg, the mother who met with Bachmann, said her 15-year-old son, Justin, was perpetually bullied. The school even allowed a "Day of Truth," hosted by the antigay legal group Alliance Defense Fund and supported in the past by “ex-gay” group Exodus International.
Bachmann has a long history of believing in the type of "reparative therapy" that groups like Exodus had been pushing. The small business she regularly bragged about owning while running for president is actually a Christian counseling clinic run by her husband, Marcus. Two hidden-camera stings during the 2012 campaign showed counselors there promising prospective patients that it's possible to stop having homosexual attraction.
And the congresswoman herself gave the opening blessing at a Love Won Out conference in 2004, saying that gay people have "deep emotional wounds" but that "healing" is possible. She also wrote a testimonial for a book that tells the story of a woman who claims to no longer be a lesbian.
For the record, the American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association say it's impossible to change a person's sexual orientation and harmful to try.
Mrs. and Mr. Bachmann Reject Science, Kinsey Scale
Neither Michele nor Marcus Bachmann find the results of Alfred Kinsey's famous research on human sexuality to be valid. The Kinsey Scale says that most people live within some variation of sexuality and human attraction, and that at least 10% of the human population is gay. In fact, the Bachmanns were reminded at a campaign event in Iowa that "if you have 28 children, then 2.8 of those kids are very likely gay." Marcus Bachmann told the woman, Kathy Schnell, who raised the argument, "Your facts are wrong.”
"That's not valid?" asked Schnell.
"No, it isn't," said the congresswoman before she moved to the next table. Her husband added, "No, it's not at all. It's been a myth for many years."
Not Your Mommie Dearest
Bachmann has a history of confrontational encounters with constituents who are trying to engage her about her antigay stances. In December 2011, one such constituent caught Bachmann so off-guard that she simply ended the conversation and walked away. That constituent was an 8-year-old boy with a lesbian mother.
"Miss Bachmann, my mommy's gay but she doesn't need fixing," the child whispered into Bachmann's ear at a book signing.
The congresswoman asked the boy to repeat himself, and when he did so, Bachmann's friendly face fell and she shut down the conversation with an abrupt "Bye-bye!"
Bachmann 'Narrowly Escaped' Being Kidnapped by Lesbian Nuns
Lest anyone presume Bachmann's antigay bigotry was the result of simple animus and religious intolerance, the outgoing representative told The Daily Beast in 2011 that she was nearly abducted by two women in a bathroom in 2005.
The pair consisted of a lesbian and an ex-nun.
At the time of the alleged attempted kidnapping, Bachmann was a Minnesota state senator and had already started to campaign against LGBT rights. She had previously been caught hiding in the bushes at a gay rights event.
When she refused to speak about gay rights at a constituent forum, the two women encountered Bachmann in the bathroom and questioned her on the subject. Pamela Arnold, a 5-foot-tall lesbian now in her 50s, began a conversation with the then-senator, when Bachmann screamed out, “Help! I’m being held against my will!"
Arnold stepped aside and opened the door. Bachmann rushed to an SUV waiting outside and shortly after filed a police report stating that she was “absolutely terrified and has never been terrorized before as she had no idea what the two women were going to do to her."
No charges were filed in the case, as the Washington County attorney deemed the incident to be a simple conversation between a politician and her constituents.
Watch Bachmann explain her retirement in the video below.