Anderson Cooper: Bachmann Suddenly Silent On Gays
Two Parents, Some Kids... But Not A Family
Bachmann’s attitude toward gay and lesbian families was further exposed, if only momentarily, when she told "Meet the Press" host David Gregory that two people living together in a single home in committed devotion to one another and their children did not constitute a family.
As ThinkProgress reported on Aug. 15, Bachmann responded to Gregory’s question about gay and lesbian families with children by saying, "When it comes to marriage, and family, my opinion is that marriage is between a man and a woman."
"So a gay couple with kids would not be considered a family to you?" Gregory pressed.
At that point, Bachmann resorted to a tactic that has, of late, become a favorite means of dealing with questions about her views on sexual minorities, their rights, and their families.
"You know, all of these kinds of questions really aren’t about what people are concerned about right now," Bachmann (who had previously told a New Hampshire newspaper that marriage equality was a "frivolous matter") said to Gregory.
Many fiscal conservatives agree that the American electorate is hardly losing much sleep over the issue of gays marrying one another. A recent poll showed that a slim majority of Americans approve of marriage equality for the first time in history. Conservatives who are serious about retaking the White House in 2012 -- including many gay conservatives -- say that the Republican Party needs to stop punishing sexual minorities as a means of scoring political points with the electorate at large. In a modern context, in which GLBT Americans have rapidly won increasing acceptance in recent years, clinging to anti-gay talking points serves to marginalize otherwise serious contenders and obscure policy positions on crucial questions such as the economy and jobs creation.
But Bachmann’s record has been anything but socially neutral, and her fresh tactic of downplaying GLBT issues as "trivial" sounds hollow, coming from a politician who has made anti-gay rhetoric a hallmark of her career. ThinkProgress also pointed out that the Congresswoman’s antigay views, which still peek through on occasion, remain in place despite the fact that many of her own constituents are gays and lesbians, and many of them have life partners and children that they consider to be families, even if the congresswoman does not.
"The 2010 Census shows that there are at least 13,718 same-sex couples living in Bachmann’s home state of Minnesota, and 2,372 of those couples report raising children," ThinkProgress noted. "If those are not ’families,’ it’s unclear what Bachmann thinks they might be."
Bachmann’s newfound elevation above the fray of full legal equality for America’s GLBT citizens, and her new code of silence about such matters, also buckled when, later the same day, she appeared on the CNN program "State of the Union," reported LGBTQ Nation on Aug. 14.
Asked about "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," the law that kept openly gay Americans from serving their country in uniform for 18 years, Bachmann said that she would keep the law, which is due for its final stage of repeal on Sept. 20.
"The ’Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy has worked very well," Bachmann told the CNN program, going on to indicate that a Bachmann presidency would feature a reimposition of the ban on openly gay servicemembers. "I would be in consultation with our commanders, but yes, I probably will" kick gays out of uniform once again if elected president, Bachmann added.
ThinkProgress took exception to those comments, with an Aug. 14 article saying, "Exactly how Bachmann defines ’worked’ remains unclear. Since its establishment in 1993, the DADT policy has resulted in the direct ouster of nearly 14,000 military service members. According to a 2007 study by the Williams Institute, the military’s [retention] rates have also been harmed by the policy, with approximately 4,000 gay, lesbian and bisexual personnel leaving the military per year, who ’would have been retained if they could have been more open about their sexual orientation.’ "
ThinkProgress went on to note the harm that the anti-gay policy has done to efforts to secure the nation against terrorist threats, reporting, "[A]t least 58 Arabic linguists have been expunged from the military due to DADT policy -- a serious loss in an era in which Middle Eastern terrorism is a significant international threat."
Cooper speculated that it was because of Bachmann’s presidential ambitions that she has mostly gone mum about gays.
"Yet, those ’light, frivolous matters,’ " as Bachmann characterized issues relating to GLBT equality before the law and gay families when speaking to New Hampshire newspaper the Concord Monitor, "were once serious enough for Ms. Bachmann to advocate changing her state’s constitution," Cooper noted. "By the way, we invited Ms. Bachmann on tonight, as we do many nights; once again, our request for the interview was declined, and subsequent calls went unanswered."
Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. 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.