Bachmann and the Definition of “Family”

Further evidence of Bachmann's extreme views on homosexuality.

As part of a series of questions on the issue of homosexuality David Gregory asked Michele Bachmann the following:

MR. GREGORY: So a gay couple with kids would not be considered a family to you?

Bachmann responded:

REP. BACHMANN: You know, all of these kind of questions really aren’t about what people are concerned about right now. This isn’t what–this isn’t…

MR. GREGORY: Congresswoman, you said it…

REP. BACHMANN: …and I’m not judging them.

MR. GREGORY: You said that any, any candidate for president should be asked about his or her views and their record. This is a record of your statement. These were defining political issues for you as your political career advanced. You’re the one who said that same-sex marriage was a defining political issue of our time. Those were your words back in 2004. So I’m just asking you about your views on something that has animated your political life.

REP. BACHMANN: Right. I think my views are clear.

Let me start by saying:  yes, her views are quite clear.

Now, I understand* Bachmann’s position of homosexuality and gay marriage, but I found this interchange to be astonishing insofar as she could not bring herself to call a gay couple with kids a family.  I think this reveals the truly extreme nature of her position on homosexuality in general.  Even the most diehard evangelical usually responds to such a question by stating that such an arrangement is not ideal (and go on to say why) but they typically would concede that such an arrangement is a family.

Yet Bachmann apparently cannot bring herself to concede even that.  This is especially remarkable given that she and her husband have demonstrated compassion by the number of foster children they have cared for over the years.  One would think that such experiences would create a recognition about the importance of family, even if the parents in said family are not Bachmann’s ideal version therefore.

As I said:  truly astonishing.

The above was after the following rather lengthy interchange on the topic of homosexuality in general:

MR. GREGORY: OK. I want to also ask you about your interpretation of the Bible and your feelings about gays and lesbians. You have said in recent years that opposition to same sex marriage is defining a political debate in this country. You’re opposed to it, you’d like to see a constitutional ban against it in this country. And during a speech that you gave in 2004 at an education conference, you spoke openly and in detail about gays and lesbians. And I want to play just a portion of that speech and have you react, react to it.

(Videotape, November 6, 2004)

REP. BACHMANN: It’s a very sad life. It’s part of Satan, I think, to say that this is gay. It’s anything but gay. … It leads to the personal enslavement of individuals. Because if you’re involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it’s bondage. It is personal bondage, personal despair, and personal enslavement. And that’s why this is so dangerous. … We need to have profound compassion for people who are dealing with the very real issue of sexual dysfunction in their life and sexual identity disorders.

(End videotape)

MR. GREGORY: That is the view President Bachmann would have of gay Americans?

REP. BACHMANN: Well, I am running for the presidency of the United States. I’m not running to be anyone’s judge. I do stand very…

MR. GREGORY: But you have judged them.

REP. BACHMANN: I, I, I don’t judge them. I don’t judge them. I am running for presidency of the United States.

MR. GREGORY: Is that the view of gays–gay Americans that President Bachmann would have?

REP. BACHMANN: Well, my, my view on marriage is that I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. And that’s what I stand for. But I ascribe honor and dignity to every person no matter what their background. They have honor and they have dignity.

MR. GREGORY: Do you think that gay Americans hearing quotes like that from you would think that that’s, that’s honor and dignity coming from you about their circumstance?

REP. BACHMANN: I am not anyone’s judge…

MR. GREGORY: Right.

REP. BACHMANN: …and I’m not standing in as anyone’s judge.

MR. GREGORY: Congresswoman, you have–I mean, do you think anyone hears that and thinks you haven’t made a judgment about gays and lesbians?

REP. BACHMANN: That’s all I can tell you is that I’m not judging.

MR. GREGORY: So your words should stand for themselves?

REP. BACHMANN: I’m running for the presidency of the United States. That’s what’s important.

It is astonishing that a person can hold views that clearly evaluate the behavior (indeed, lifestyle and self-identification) of a set of persons (and does so in the negative) and then claim not to be judging.  Surely judgment is inherent is saying that homosexuality is “sad,” or “enslavement,” (amongst other things).  One distorts the English language to claim otherwise.

I suspect that Bachmann is engaging in an evangelical dodge on this issue, by saying (without explaining what she means to the non-evangelicals in the audience) that she is not judging the eternal condition or homosexuals (i.e., not judging their immortal souls) because that is the domain of God alone.  This is a typical evangelical responses when they are caught, well, judging people.  It is partially derived from Matthew 7 (although, in honesty, I think this is a passage that evangelicals violate constantly, especially those of Bachmann’s theological persuasion).  It is also part and parcel of “love the sinner, hate the sin” which makes evangelicals feel better when they say means things (see Bachmann above) about people they sincerely believe are in the wrong, but is small solace to person whose sin is being hated.

Of course, we can forget parsing Bachmann’s words and state, categorically, that I can’t imagine she has a prayer of getting the homosexual vote (not that I thought otherwise before this interview).  Further, she appears to take the view that homosexuals need to be cured (which fits with her husband’s views on the subject) and that she really has no interest in representing them as president.   I will further say that her views are clearly out of the American mainstream on this issue.  She certainly doesn’t seem to think of homosexuals as equal participants in the phrase “my fellow Americans” (at least not as  healthy members of that community).   Again:  not surprising, but still pretty remarkable (especially given her status, at the moment, as a serious contender for the GOP nomination).

*And I means understand in more than one way.  First, I think her policy positions are quite clear.  Second, I honestly do understand what she is saying insofar as I come from a religious tradition that is not that different from Bachmann’s.  At a minimum, I have certainly heard similar types of statements about homosexuality from the pulpit.  I was raised with the notion that homosexuality was a sin and I once opposed gay marriage, in fact.  My views on these matters have changed, however.  And, I hasten to add, where never as extreme as Bachmann’s.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Religion, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Ron Beasley says:

    I don’t really understand why these Bible thumpers have such a problem with Sharia law. It’s pretty much what they believe to be true. Oh, that’s right it’s different when brown people push Leviticus.

  2. K says:

    She clearly also believes her views are outside the American mainstream or else she would be forthright about them to a general audience.

  3. Gulliver says:

    What a refreshing position by Bachmann – it’s nice to see a candidate that reflects the views of the majority of Americans, instead of playing cute.

  4. Gustopher says:

    Does she define a straight woman, a gay man, and a bunch of kids as a family?

  5. laura says:

    When you think having the world celebrate your sexuality is the #1 issue of our day — you have wrong priorities that show you care only about your own sexuality. That’s called “sexual obsession”. There’s something wrong with you, most definitely. SUPREME narcissist.

  6. Xenos says:

    Mendacious claptrap. Pretty much nothing coming from this creep is anything but mendacious claptrap.

    God save us.

  7. Axel Edgren says:

    @laura:

    What about not having your sexuality and who you love constantly put under social and political threat from anti-secular animals, laura?

  8. Murray says:

    “It is astonishing that a person can hold views that clearly evaluate the behavior … of a set of persons … and then claim not to be judging. ”

    Nothing astonishing here, just standard populist politics. Basically trying to say what the audience wants to hear. Very extreme for her fans, more elusive for a larger audience.

    Twenty or thirty years ago it was very effective because one could isolate audiences to divide and conquer.. Today, with the proliferation of news sources and the ubiquitous presence of audio-video recording devices, it has thankfully become counter productive.

  9. mike says:

    She’s done. even the conservatives that I know would disagree with belief that this is the “defining political issue of our time” – she is either a political opportunist or she has something going on in her personal life making her take such an extreme view or both – whether she likes it or not there are a lot of families out there who are gay/lesbian with and w/o kids – what would she as president (i shudder with the thought) do about it – just ignore the reality?

  10. sam says:

    “I suspect that Bachmann is engaging in an evangelical dodge on this issue, by saying (without explaining what she means to the non-evangelicals in the audience) that she is not judging the eternal condition or homosexuals (i.e., not judging their immortal souls) because that is the domain of God alone. ”

    What’s interesting is that she is engaging in what the Muslims call Taqiyya.

  11. JohnMcC says:

    I’m borrowing but I don’t remember from whom — Bachmann does not believe in ‘gay’. She (and her husband) think that ‘gay’ really means that someone who is actually heterosexual has a spiritual sickness that traps them in a fraudulent life. There are actually only straight people but some don’t realize it. The Bachmanns want to help.

    Just a reminder. The year is 2011. We are in the 21st century.

    We don’t need to listen to them.

  12. An Interested Party says:

    @laura:

    You, like many people who think the way you do, are quite confused…wanting the same rights as heterosexuals does not mean that gay people are trying to have the world celebrate their sexuality nor is that supposed celebration their #1 issue…and fighting for rights definitely isn’t the wrong priority nor does it mean they care only about their sexuality…the real obsession is shown by those who talk endlessly about the “homosexual agenda” and act as if gay people are aliens from outer space…to treat gay people as if there is something wrong with them, as if what they are is only a “choice” means that there is something wrong with you, most definitely…SUPREME bigot…