Talking About Gay People: Christine O’Donnell and Michele Bachmann Don’t Wanna Do It

Earlier this year, it was established via an insider’s poll of the Republican Party that gay marriage is rapidly becoming an issue that conservatives want to drop because they recognize that opposing it can be a damaging position. The hope, of course, is that this will come to mean same-sex marriage and the equal rights of queer people in general are something that the Republican party is ready to accept. Right now, though, it seems like all it means is that gay people are something the Republican party just doesn’t want to talk about — at least not until after the election.

Michele Bachmann is perhaps the best example of this avoidance strategy — despite one of the strongest and most obvious anti-gay track records, including a campaign against gay marriage, allusions to homosexuality as “personal enslavement” and a husband who may or may not (but probably kind of does) help facilitate anti-gay conversion therapy, she now steadfastly refuses to discuss her attitudes towards gays or same-sex marriage with the press, calling them “frivolous.” This would be a step forward, if it seemed like that was something she actually believed. Instead, based on her actions against gay families in the past and in recent weeks, it seems clear that she doesn’t think this is frivolous at all — she just doesn’t want to talk about it. As Tim Murphy of Mother Jones says:

Bachmann’s best articulation of her go-to response to questions about gay issues was on “Meet the Press,” when she said, “these kind of questions aren’t what people are concerned about right now.” That’s true—unless you’re among the millions of LGBT Americans directly affected by these issues. Or, for that matter, unless you’re Michele Bachmann, who has now signed two pledges in the last month committing her to oppose gay marriage, and who makes her leadership on the issue part of her stump speech. In essence, Bachmann is arguing that gay marriage is a really trivial issue that’s also an existential threat to the core foundation of American society, the family. Got that? 

More recently, Christine O’Donnell (the uber-conservative, sex-negative Tea Party candidate from Delaware) actually walked off the Piers Morgan show when asked about gay marriage, with the cryptic explanation “I’m not being weird, you’re being a little rude.”

O’Donnell has somewhat fallen out of the public spotlight as a former US Senate candidate, but was on the Piers Morgan show to promote her new book, Troublemaker. One assumes that her views, on gays as well as sex, politics, and witchcraft, remain intact and unchanged in her book — but it’s clear she has no intention of discussing them publicly. And both she and Bachmann have implied that when reporters or media personalities have asked them about their views on gay issues, it’s somehow inappropriate on the reporter’s part — which is confusing, given how openly they’ve brought up their own views at press conferences and media events in the past (see The Bachmann Record for plenty of examples).

What conclusions can one draw from this weird backtracking? It’s an election year, which means that for every candidate, there’s their agenda and then there’s how they need that agenda to be perceived. It doesn’t seem like either Bachmann or O’Donnell’s views have substantively changed on gays or anything else; it seems more likely that voters’ views have changed on their opinions. Whether it’s part of a plan to tone down political extremity and play to the center in general, or whether gay rights specifically are now more of a dangerous topic with voters is debatable. Maybe more importantly, though, especially in Bachmann’s case, is the question of whether that extremism will come back in full force if she’s elected — our families and our rights might not seem so “frivolous” to her then.

Before you go! 99.9% of our readers don't support Autostraddle. Still, it takes funding to keep this indie queer publication running every day. And the majority of our funding comes from readers like you. That's less than 1% of our readers who keep Autostraddle around for EVERYBODY. Will you join them?

Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.

32 Comments

  1. I am always so terrified when these things happen. Like, at first I was like, oh PLEASE let Michelle Bachmann get the GOP nomination because then Obama will win again and that is leaps and bounds better than any conservative candidate out there! And then I realized that some people might actually be taken in by this subterfuge and think that it is a good idea to vote for her because she can separate her personal issues and her political issues or something AUGH I don’t know I have too many feelings about politics to speak of them coherently

    • With you on the terror. This is super scary because she’s obviously responding to the polls that say republicans don’t want to talk about homos anymore, but she doesn’t bother to say whether she’s dropped the whole anti-gay agenda or just plans to not talk about it but still move forward with anti-gay legislation if she got into office.

  2. I’ve never seen a more blatantly discriminate display of behavior get commended like this. The nutcase has risen to some deluded power by vowing to deny basic rights to millions of citizens and as a result is potentially the next leader of our nation!? WTF America? She is both terrifying and laughable as a candidate….I can only hope there are more folks out there with functioning synapses in the heads than there are empty fundamentalist shells waiting to feel validated by this moron!

  3. Yeah, but piers Morgan was an ass, he did a very simalar thing to another celebrity (my boss) on his show, and my boss is an atheist and very supportive of the gay community. Piers wanted to talk about other peoples books and theological beliefs. So I’m sorry to say this, but I think odonnel was in the right, please dont kill me.

  4. The thing that confuses me most about this is… is she running for something? Why is this even a big deal? I see her as another Sarah Palin. The woman was a joke last year. I felt legitimately embarrassed for her during her debates with Chris Coons. Coons was nice enough (maybe too nice) to help correct O’Donnell when she misspoke about foreign policy. She can’t be taken seriously as a politician because, hate to say it, she’s another Sarah Palin — an attractive woman who obviously knows nothing about current affairs, but has all the right conservative values. (I hate that — on either side of the aisle, no matter what — I am reduced to admit these woman are listened to in large part because they are pretty.)

    This is my very favorite Christine O’Donnell clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8Uur58Idcw Bonus points because the guy challenging her is Eric Nies from the Real World NY and The Grind. Ha!

    What’s most interesting to me about this clip is that I think it shows self-awareness that the view of opposing gay marriage is losing popularity. She wanted to focus on the popular points: spending and debt and jobs and blah blah. She’ll still oppose it because the most passionate supporters she’ll ever have are her most conservative ones. But she’s trying to sell a book to everyone here. (Which she probably didn’t write herself.)

    • I also want to point out, if the Tea Party Express hadn’t intervened and got O’Donnell through the primary, Delaware would 100% have a Republican senator. Mike Castle was going to win, but he was too moderate for Tea Partiers, so they helped O’Donnell win a closed primary in a tiny state. It cost the GOP a vote in the Senate and helped Dems keep their majority. Christine O’Donnell is a special little curiosity of the 2010 cycle.

  5. “gay marriage is rapidly becoming an issue that conservatives want to drop because they recognize that opposing it can be a damaging position” that’s really weak. you should not change your opinions solely because everyone else does. I guess this is still good news for you americans though.

  6. I got so confused when I read the title, by the time I got to O’Donnell, I had forgotten it was Christine and thought the article was about Rosie O’Donnell and Michelle Bachmann. Seemed like an odd pairing.

  7. When I first read this I for some reason changed Christine O’Donnell into Rosie O’Donnell and I got confused. Then I focusedon what the headline actually saidand I was like damn it Michele Bachman why must you exist.

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!