Presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) continues to demonstrate that mocking the gay community while dismissing their struggles is key to her campaign strategy. A series of recent anti-gay comments show just how committed she is to demonizing a significant number of citizens, including her constituents.
After Anoka-Hennepin mom Tammy Aaberg delivered 200,000 petition signatures from individuals calling on Bachmann to address anti-gay bullying in the Minnesota district she represents, her office initially had no comment. But when she was asked about it at a campaign stop on Friday, her only response was, “That’s not a federal issue.” When faced with a constituent’s concern that led to her son’s death, Bachmann’s response was simply that bullying is not her problem. Given that she thinks the entire Department of Education is unconstitutional, the response is consistent, but no less insulting to the life of Justin Aaberg or the many young people whose lives are at risk in American schools. Of course, given her silence on the recent anti-gay murder in her hometown, she might not have any interest in addressing anti-gay violence whatsoever.
Then on Friday night, Bachmann appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and he asked her about the Christian counseling clinics she runs with her husband Marcus. She attempted to make a joke about the harmful ex-gay therapy they offer, a joke that got NO laughs:
LENO: Well, that whole “pray the gay away” thing. I don’t get that.
BACHMANN: Well, see, I think, when I heard that, I really thought it was kind of a mid-life crisis line — “Pray away the grey” — that’s what I thought it was.
Bachmann reiterated that their clinic offers support for “whatever issue” anyone has, even if it means offering therapy that violates professional counseling standards. Despite the feigned ignorance her “joke” required, she is no stranger to ex-gay therapy — she endorsed the ex-gay ministry Love Won Out back in 2004. Hundreds of ex-gay survivors have shared their stories about the harm they endured through different forms of reparative therapy, just like what the Bachmanns offer in their clinic. For her to make light of their trauma adds insult to injury, a reinforcement of the harm her clinics are already known to perpetuate. (The Courage Campaign did a much better job of bringing levity to the issue with its “You Can’t Pray Away The Gay” flash mob last week, directed at Bachmann.)
Bachmann has shown that she doesn’t care about the harm her constituents endure or her contributions to that harm. It is unclear how she thinks this approach benefits her campaign, but it seems unlikely she’ll be backing down any time soon.