Bachmann Can't Outrun Her Anti-'Sexual Anarchy' Past

The congresswoman is now a top target of her dreaded "homosexual agenda"

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Michele Bachmann made her name in Minnesota politics by working hard to pass an amendment to the state constitution to keep gay people from getting married. Now gay activists won't let her forget it. In her presidential campaign, Bachmann is tweaking her image, The New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports, presenting herself as a fiscally responsible deficit-cutter. Her first campaign ad doesn't even mention social issues. But her days as a culture warrior weren't that long ago--2004 appears to be the peak of her activism against the "personal enslavement" of "sexual anarchy." The issue keeps following her. Next year's Exodus International "ex-gay" convention will be held in St. Paul, in the home state of Bachmann and her husband, who runs a clinic that turns gays straight. And GOProud, a gay Republican group controversial within the party, has requested a meeting with Bachmann, Yahoo's Chris Moody reports.

Meanwhile, Politico's Ben Smith reports that gay rights groups are now using Bachmann to energize the ranks. "Michele Bachmann is the very definition of a target-rich environment, and given her husband's positions and things she's said in past she's going to have a really hard time appearing as a reasonable mainstream candidate," Michael Cole-Schwartz of the Human Rights Campaign told Smith.

But some insist the attacks from gay rights groups will help Bachmann. The National Organization for Marriage's Maggie Gallagher told Smith, "The Iowa base is extremely upset about same-sex marriage and I don’t think they’re going to look kindly on these attacks."
Commentary's Jonathan S. Tobin echoes Gallagher's argument--at least in the short run. Referring to social conservatives, Tobin writes, "Getting beaten up for her opposition to gay marriage can only help her with this key voting group and make it even harder for other candidates, such as Tim Pawlenty or Rick Santorum, to make any headway with social issue voters." On the other hand, he says:
But it would be a mistake to think Bachmann ought not to be concerned about her association with gay issues. Bachmann’s success to date has been the product of her strong stands on fiscal issues and a sunny, upbeat personality that has charmed many Republicans who hadn’t known much about her before the last few months...
But, even after a victory in Iowa, if the increasing media focus on the gay issue is what is most associated with her in the public mind, it will become a major problem in the later big state primaries and possible derail her long shot hopes of winning the nomination.
Former New York Mayor--and possible presidential contender--Rudy Giuliani said on Sunday that the "Republican Party would be well advised to get the heck out of people's bedrooms and let these things get decided by states." But that would be quite an about-face for Bachmann. Just seven years ago, she said same-sex marriage was "the biggest issue... in the last, at least, 30 years." Let's see: We pulled out of Vietnam in '74, so at least she wasn't including that. Still, going by that quote, there's a long list of things Michele Bachmann thinks aren't as important as same-sex marriage. It would include, for example, the collapse of the Soviet Union, Monica Lewinsky, September 11, and the Iraq war.
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