Michelle Bachmann’s Wacky Homophobia Is All Fun And Games Until Kids Start Turning Up Dead


MOTHER JONES: The first was TJ. Then came Samantha, Aaron, Nick, and Kevin. Over the past two years, a total of nine teenagers have committed suicide in a Minnesota school district represented by Rep. Michele Bachmann—the latest in May—and many more students have attempted to take their lives. State public health officials have labeled the area a “suicide contagion area” because of the unusually high death rate. […] There’s no sure way of knowing why any of the kids took their own lives, but gay rights activists quickly honed in on one factor they saw as contributing to an unhealthy climate for at-risk kids. Anoka-Hennepin has a policy on the books known colloquially as “no homo promo,” which dates in back to the mid-1990s. Back then, after several emotional school board meetings, the district essentially wiped gay people out of the school health curriculum. There could be no discussion of homosexuality, even with regard to HIV and AIDS, and the school board adopted a formal policy that stated school employees could not teach that homosexuality was a “normal, valid lifestyle.”

Later the policy was changed to require school staff to remain neutral on issues of homosexuality if they should come up in class, a change that critics said fostered confusion among teachers and contributed to their inability to address bullying and harassment, or to even ask reasonable questions about some of the issues the kids were struggling with, like sexual orientation. Both policies were put into place at the behest of conservative religious activists who have been among Bachmann’s biggest supporters in the district. They include the Minnesota Family Council (MFC), and its local affiliate, the Parents Action League, which has lobbied to put discredited “reparative therapy” materials in schools. That’s the sort of counseling reportedly practiced by Bachmann & Associates, the mental health clinics run by Michele Bachmann’s husband, Marcus. The clinics reportedly counsel people on how to “pray away the gay” to become straight. Before entering politics, Bachmann served as the education advisor to the MFC-affiliated Minnesota Family Institute, a relationship she has continued. This spring, she headlined a fundraising dinner for MFC, along with Newt Gingrich.

The MFC has waged a seven-year battle to pass a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage that will be on the state ballot in 2012. In the Minnesota Legislature, Bachmann was at the forefront of this issue. In 2004, she appeared on the steps at the state capital at a rally supporting a ban on gay marriage and linked the issue to the public schools, telling the crowd, “In our public schools, whether they want to or not, they’ll be forced to start teaching that same-sex marriage is equal, that it is normal and that children should try it.” Teachers and counselors in the district, as well as civil rights activists, say that Bachmann’s closest allies like the MFC have helped create a vitriolic climate in the wake of the teen suicides in the Anoka-Hennepin area that may have hampered the community’s ability to effectively address what was, at root, a serious mental health crisis. MORE

Jordon_Yenor.jpgRELATED: Last week another student in the Anoka Hennepin School District committed suicide. 14 year old Jordan Yenor was an 8th grader at Northdale Middle School in Coon Rapids. Yenor was found dead in his home last week and the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office has said he committed suicide. This is the 8th student suicide in the district in the last 2 years. The district has hired 2 mental health counselors to work with students in need. The Anoka Hennepin District has 38,000 students and is the largest district in Minnesota. MORE

Lance_Lundsten.jpgRELATED: On Saturday evening, 18-year-old student Lance Lundsten of Miltona, Minn., killed himself, local station KSAX reported. The local sheriff’s office “confirmed to KSAX that they believed Lundsten’s death was a suicide,” though further details were not reported. MORE

RELATED: The news of a high school student’s death and rumored suicide began circling social networking sites Monday morning, after the news began spreading that 18-year-old Jefferson High School student Lance Lundsten had died over the weekend. According to his Facebook page, Lundsten was openly gay. On a Facebook memorial page in Lundsten’s honor, friends said that Lundsten had been bullied at school for his sexual orientation. Some students who knew Lundsten believed the bullying may have led to his death. MORE

Haylee_Page.jpgRELATED: A slumber party in Minnesota ended in tragedy when two eighth grade girls fulfilled a suicide pact, killing themselves and leaving behind suicide notes telling their families that they loved them. The bodies of best friends Haylee Fentress and Paige Moravetz, both 14, were discovered Saturday by Fentress’ mother, Tracy Morrison. Haylee’s aunt, Robin Settle, said the girl had recently moved to the rural town of Lynd, Minn., and had complained to her family that she felt ostracized and bullied. Settle also said there are indications that the girls had planned their deaths for a long time, even including funeral details in a good-bye note. “I’m shocked and I’m mad and I’m sad…I don’t understand the mentality of kids torturing other kids, kids having to go through this. They don’t think they have anywhere to go to,” Settle told ABC News.com. Settle said that her niece, Haylee, had been the victim of bullying after moving to Minnesota from Indiana with her mother and 8-year-old brother. MORE

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RELATED: Bradlee Dean is a Minnesota radio host, anti-gay activist, and drummer for the band Junkyard Prophet, voted “the second-best unsigned band in the nation” in 1996 by Heaven’s Metal magazine. Dean is likely the only scheduled speaker with a tattoo of Abraham sacrificing Isaac on his forearm; he is almost certainly the only scheduled speaker who has ever gone more than a decade without cutting his hair—a lifestyle decision that gives him a more-than-passing resemblance to Poison’s Bret Michaels. But over the last five years, Bachmann, the politician, and Dean, the metal-head, have formed an unlikely but powerful alliance. Bachmann has helped raise money for Dean’s traveling youth ministry, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International; guest-starred in his television series; and prayed for his ministry to multiply 10-fold. Dean, for his part, has embraced Bachmann, whose district includes his suburban community of Annandale, as an ally against the gay agenda. But his inflammatory rhetoric and past links to an anti-government organization make Bachmann’s own controversial views seem downright pedestrian—and raise bradlee_dean_s_benediction.6916157.40.jpgserious questions about the congresswoman’s choice of associates. MORE

RELATED: “Muslims are calling for the executions of homosexuals in America,” Bradlee Dean said on YCR’s May 15 radio show on AM 1280 the Patriot. “This just shows you they themselves are upholding the laws that are even in the Bible of the Judeo-Christian God, but they seem to be more moral than even the American Christians do, because these people are livid about enforcing their laws. They know homosexuality is an abomination.” MORE

RELATED: Bradlee Dean, a Christian Metal Rocker who runs You Can Run But You Cannot Hide Ministry, has announced that he is suing Rachel Maddow for $50 million (however, “money is not the issue” according to a press release from his attorney) for false accusations and defamation over remarks about homosexuals and Sharia Law which he says were misrepresented by Maddow. MORE

RELATED: A lawsuit seeking in excess of $50 million has been prepared against MSNBC and its talk-show entertainer Rachel Maddow over statements she made about a Minnesota-based ministry. Word of the development comes in an announcement from officials with the YouCanRunButYouCannotHideInternational ministry run by former rock artist Bradlee Dean. The attorney handling the case is Larry Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch and now of Freedom Watch, who said money is not the issue. “This case is filed as a matter of principle,” he said. “We need more Bradlee Deans in the world and hateful left wing television commentators must be made to respect not only his mission but the law.” MORE

RELATED: Muslims are just one of many groups that the tattooed, long-haired preacher reviles. Last year, he even had kind words for the way Islam deals with a group he abhors even more—homosexuals. “Muslims are calling for the executions of homosexuals in America,” he said on his radio show, The Sons of Liberty . “It shows you they themselves are upholding the laws that are even in the Bible of the Judeo-Christian God, but they seem to be more moral than even the American Christians do, because these people are livid about enforcing their laws. They know homosexuality is an abomination.”  After his remarks were reported by the Minnesota Independent, Dean backed off and said he did not believe gays and lesbians should be put to death. There is no question, though, that they are his bête noir. He’s spoken in favor of imprisoning them and believes they should be barred from government jobs. In January, when a woman named Sharon Lubinski became the first openly lesbian federal marshal, Dean claimed her appointment was illegal, saying: “Sodomy is against the law in the United States. Homosexuality is against the law in the United States.”  On average, he says, gay people “molest 117 people before they’re found out.” Like others on bradlee_dean_s_benediction.6916157.40.jpgthe far right, he presents homosexuality as part of a conspiracy designed to erode the United States from its foundations. As one of his mentors, Harry Jackson, said on Dean’s radio show, gay marriage is part of “a satanic plot to destroy our seed.” MORE

RELATED: Dean complained about the treatment he has received by the media. “When doing high schools across the country we noticed that when the media began to push an illegal agenda called the gay agenda (sodomy is illegal in this country) we started getting attacked from the media,” he wrote. Sodomy laws, which were often used to imprison gays and lesbians as recently as the 1980s, were declared unconstitutional in Minnesota in 2001 and nationwide in 2003. Dean has frequently spoken of the need to enforce sodomy laws against gays and lesbians who he views as criminals. “All the way up until 1961 it was illegal in every state to commit the crime of sodomy. Homosexuality was considered a mental illness up until 1973. There has also never been any such thing as gay marriage in the history of mankind. So, for simply inciting the laws of the land in which the radical homosexuals hate so much, I became a target,” he wrote. “The radical homosexuals want to re-educate America by teaching people of all ages to hate the laws that expose their crimes. So the next time you hear ‘hate crimes,’ remember that is the criminal who hates the law.” Dean wrote that he believes gay marriage is part of a larger conspiracy. “This is not about homosexuals getting married; this is about a government-backed agenda,” he wrote. “Radical leaders are using the homosexual communities as a political battering ram to overthrow all sense of right and wrong.” MORE

CITY PAGES: Bradlee Dean’s Benediction OR How a tracksuit-wearing homophobe became the MN GOP’s favorite preacher


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PREVIOUSLY: PHYSICIAN HEAL THYSELF: Michelle Bachmann’s Husband Runs ‘Gay Cure’ Clinic With Taxpayer Funds

RELATED: Most professional psychologists view reparative therapy skeptically, to say the least. In 2007 the American Psychological Association assembled a task force to study the effectiveness of this approach. After spending two years sifting through the available research—it evaluated eighty-three studies dating back to 1960—the group concluded that there was scant evidence that sexual orientation could be changed. What’s more, it found that attempting to do so could cause depression and suicidal tendencies among patients. Based on these findings, in 2009 the APA voted to repudiate reparative therapy by a margin of 125 to 4. MORE

RELATED: Dr. Bachmann, who recently called himself his wife’s “strategist,” has acted as her media planner, traveling assistant and even personal shopper. They share a bond born of a mutual religious awakening in high school and college, a deep faith in an especially conservative form of Lutheranism, and a common abhorrence of homosexuality. MORE

RELATED: “It’s pretty much a given that the most vociferously homophobic men are usually repressing something. But, oh Mary, Michele Bachmann’s husband Marcus takes the ever-loving cake. He’s a cure-the-gay therapist out of a John Waters movie. I haven’t seen flames this high since the last California wildfire…” MORE

RELATED: The gay blogosphere has been buzzing in recent days about a candid video posted online that shows the husband of Michele Bachmann sashaying down a hallway with a drag queen’s strut and an audio of him speaking out against gays in a high-pitched, almost lisping voice. MORE

RELATED: In a November 20, 2006 Star Tribune article titled ” Bringing a touch of haute to the U.S. House “, Kim Ode quoted Michele Bachmann describing the fashion help she gets from Marcus:

Shopping help comes from another quarter, as well. Before Vice President Dick Cheney’s visit this past summer, Bachmann ‘s husband, Marcus, hit the stores – “he’s got a good sense of style” – and came home with “a sleek, simple hourglass dress with a yoke collar in winter white.” He even bought a matching coat and shoes. “I just slipped it on.” MORE

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