Yesterday, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) — who is seriously considering launching a campaign for the presidency — appeared before the FAMiLY Leader, an anti-gay social conservative group in Iowa. Both the Leader and its head, former gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats, have argued that homosexuality is a public health hazard akin to second hand smoke and have directed its members to literature promoting discredited ex-gay therapies. In fact, during an interview with ThinkProgress’ Scott Keyes, Plaats argued, “If we’re teaching the kids, ‘don’t smoke, because that’s a risky health style,’ the same can be true of the homosexual lifestyle. That’s why I think we need to speak the truth once in a while.”
But Bachmann did not openly embrace this line of thinking during her appearance. Asked if she agreed with Vander Plaats and the Leader about the health risks of being gay, Bachmann seemed startled and confused by the question and, after a pause, simply said, “I don’t have an answer for that”:
VOLSKY: Congresswoman, some groups — including this one, I believe — have argued that homosexuality is a public health crisis akin to second-hand smoking. I was wondering if you agreed with that.
BACHMANN: Um. I — I don’t have an answer on that. I don’t have an answer. Why don’t I have another question.
Last week, Bachmann’s potential Iowa political state director, State Rep. Kent Sorenson (R) actually disagreed with the public health meme and claimed that nobody has advanced this argument. “I think that’s absurd. … I would never make that argument and I haven’t heard anybody in Iowa make that argument, so I’m not sure where you’re coming up with that from,” he said.