Michele Bachmann’s Lesbian Stepsister Speaks Out for 1st Time
In a Sunday New York Times opinion column piece, Michele Bachmann’s lesbian stepsister talked for the first time to a journalist about the Minnesota Congresswoman. She admits being "stunned" by the former presidential candidate’s vehemently negative views on homosexuality.
About 40 years ago, Bachmann’s mother married Helen LaFave’s father. While Bachmann was on summer break during college, she lived in the same house as LaFave, who was then finishing up high school.
"I remember laughing with her a lot," LaFave, 52, told Frank Bruni, a gay columnist for the newspaper. She reminisced to him about the pre-fame days with her stepsister, whom she said she had admired. Although they drifted apart over the years, they still shared embraces during family get-togethers and that she was present when Bachmann married her husband Marcus. She added that the politician even met her partner, Nia, many times. LaFave and Nia have been together for nearly 25 years.
The two women never discussed LaFave’s sexual orientation and LaFave knew that Bachmann’s evangelical Christianity was a strong influence in her life. Nevertheless, she was still shocked when she spewed anti-gay rhetoric as a state senator in Minnesota, and supported a measure that would make gay marriage illegal in the state.
"It felt so divorced from having known me, from having known somebody who’s gay," LaFave said. "I was just stunned."
She said she couldn’t understand why her stepsister had to make her views on gay marriage so public and make them a part of her political agenda. She said that by doing so, it drove a wedge into their family as half of them support marriage equality.
LaFave, who is a communications manager for a Minneapolis suburb, sent letters to Bachmann and other member of her family in 2003 that said that she was "hurt and disappointed that my sister is leading this charge."
"You’ve taken aim at me," she wrote to Bachmann. "You’ve taken aim at my family."
LaFave says the politician never acknowledged the letter.
Bachmann has campaigned hard to ban same-sex marriage and strongly supports that marriage should be defined as a union between one man and one woman. In 2006, Bachmann spoke at a spoke at a Sate Senate hearing and voiced her support for a constitutional amendment against gay marriage. LaFave, however, showed up at the event with several relatives who supported her.
"I wasn’t looking to make a public statement," she said. "I just thought: I’m going to go there and sit there so she has to look at me. So she has to look at Nia. I wanted her to see: this is who you’re doing this to. It’s not some anonymous group of people. It’s not scary people. It’s me. It’s Nia."
"I just wanted her to see me," she added, "because it just feels, through the whole thing, like she hasn’t."
How Bachmann Outed Her Stepsister
Before those hearings, however, Bachmann made controversial comments regarding homosexuality during the 2004 National Education Leadership Conference, the British website the Daily Mail points out.
"We need to have profound compassion for the people who are dealing with the very real issue of sexual dysfunction in their life, and sexual identity disorders," she said. "This is a very real issue. It’s not funny, it’s sad. Any of you who have members of your family that are in the lifestyle-we have a member of our family that is. This is not funny. It’s a very sad life. It’s part of Satan, I think, to say this is gay. It’s anything but gay."
One commenter on the Times article in Bachmann’s hometown newspaper, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, had an interesting aside. "It appears Bachmann said this two years prior to LaFave showing up at the 2006 gay marriage hearings mentioned in Frank’s piece," the commenter noted.
"I don’t believe LaFave had ever gone public that she was gay until the hearings," the note continued. "If that is the case, Bachmann had begun to out her stepsister two years prior to LaFave ever saying anything public about being gay. When Bachmann was asked after the 2006 hearings about having a gay family member, Bachmann justified her position by saying she conducted a family vote count and the family supported her (Bachmann’s) position."
This commenter and others believe that Bachmann effectively used her stepsister as a cudgel in her battle against all things gay.
Bachmann dropped out of the House race for an aborted run to win the Republican presidential nomination over the summer-into-winter of 2011 and 2012. Since then, she has gone back to the trough for her congressional campaign and managed to raise $4.5 million in the last three months, the Hill reports. This is an exceptional amount for a House race.
"The three-month total could prove to be the largest of any House member this cycle, topping that of fellow conservative Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), who exceeded $4 million in his own quarter," the Hill reports. "Bachmann’s campaign did not say how much she has left in the bank, but it’s likely to be substantial."
Bachmann said she is "humbled" by all of the donations she has received for her campaign "focused on keeping America the most secure and prosperous nation in the world." She frequently sends out alarms to conservatives culled from various mailing lists.
Bachmann remains highly controversial on the national stage. Even House Speaker John Boehner, himself a conservative Republican, publicly criticized her for attempting to ferret out possible Arab terrorist sympathizers in the State Department.
Despite such actions and statements, she maintains a loyal following in her district, which encompasses many of the suburbs and exurbs north of Minneapolis-St. Paul. According to a poll Bachmann is in a nine-point lead over her Democratic opponent Jim Graves, Minnesota’s Star Tribune points out. Graves own polling, however, shows the race tightening, and a House fund for political races has entered the fray, a sign of confidence in Graves.
Graves, who endorses marriage equality, is soliciting donations here.