Michele Bachmann debating marriage equality with high school students in Iowa:
She then turned to Jane Schmidt, a Waverly High School student and president of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. Here’s their exchange in full.
JANE SCHMIDT: One of my main concerns is government support for the LGBT community. So my question is what would you do to protect GSAs in high school and support the LGBT community.
BACHMANN: Well, No. 1, all of us as Americans have the same rights. The same civil rights. And so that’s really what government’s role is, to protect our civil rights. There shouldn’t be any special rights or special set of criteria based upon people’s preferences. We all have the same civil rights.
JANE SCHMIDT: Then, why can’t same-sex couples get married?
BACHMANN: They can get married, but they abide by the same law as everyone else. They can marry a man if they’re a woman. Or they can marry a woman if they’re a man.
JANE SCHMIDT: Why can’t a man marry a man?
BACHMANN: Because that’s not the law of the land.
JANE SCHMIDT: So heterosexual couples have a privilege.
BACHMANN: No, they have the same opportunity under the law. There is no right to same-sex marriage.
JANE SCHMIDT: So you won’t support the LGBT community?
BACHMANN: No, I said that there are no special rights for people based upon your sex practices. There’s no special rights based upon what you do in your sex life. You’re an American citizen first and foremost and that’s it.
ELLA NEWELL, a junior at Waverly High School: Wouldn’t heterosexual couples, if they were given a privilege then, that gay couples aren’t, like given that privilege to get married, but heterosexual couples are given a privilege to get married?
BACHMANN: Remember every American citizen has the right to avail themselves to marriage but they have to follow what the laws are. And the laws are you marry a person of the opposite sex.
These were good questions Bachmann was asked (although I’m not sure what Ella Newell was trying to ask), but I can’t help wishing that one of those students had thought to make the obvious point. Being gay or lesbian has nothing to do with “sex practices” or “what you do in your sex life.” It’s about who you are physically attracted to, and who you fall in love with. Of course, physical intimacy is part of romantic love, but people do not get married so they can indulge specific sex practices. And it should be obvious that although sexual activity and physical attraction are related, they are not the same thing. People get married (hopefully, most of the time!) because they love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together. Of course, physical attraction is an important element of romantic love, but physical attraction is not chosen. You don’t choose to feel physically attracted to one specific person and not another in the same way you choose to have sex, or not, with a particular person.
That is why Bachmann’s claim that gays and lesbians “… can get married, but they abide by the same law as everyone else. They can marry a man if they’re a woman. Or they can marry a woman if they’re a man.” is so incredibly obnoxious, stupid, and ignorant. Gay and lesbian people do not and can not feel that kind of love for a person of the opposite sex — any more than I, as a heterosexual woman, could fall in love with another woman. I can (and do) love other women, but I am not physically attracted to women and I don’t FALL IN LOVE with women. Honestly, I don’t understand what the problem is here, except that I guess if homophobes like Michele Bachmann allowed themselves to acknowledge that homosexuality is about who you fall in love with just as heterosexuality is, then they could not make that specious argument about gays and lesbians having “the same right” to marry someone of the opposite sex that everyone else has.