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Michelle Bachmann on same-sex marriage, and Alexandra Petri’s response

Marriage equality

By Adam Bink

Alexandra is a columnist at The Washington Post. In response to Bachmann’s recent comment, she wrote this:

Jane Schmidt, a student at Waverly High School, in Waverly, Iowa, recently asked Michele Bachmann, “Why can’t same-sex couples get married?”

“They can get married,” Bachmann responded, “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.”

(In Iowa, same-sex marriage is the law, at least for now, but never mind that.)

She later expanded on this in a response to someone else: “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.”


This is the sound of a thousand heads hitting a thousand desks.

I’m glad Bachmann wasn’t there for history. “Why can’t Rosa Parks sit at the front of the bus?”

“She can sit,” Bachmann would say. “She can sit at the back of the bus.”

I’m glad she isn’t my waiter. “Is there a vegetarian option?”

“The vegetarian option is steak,” Bachmann would say, not blinking an eye.

“Is there a way for people in wheel chairs to access the sixth floor?”

“There’s a way. They can take the stairs,” Bachmann would say, still not blinking.

“There doesn’t seem to be an option for Republicans to vote.”

“Republicans can vote. They can vote Democrat like everyone else,” Bachmann would say, blinking a little in confusion.

“I’d like to find a synagogue.”

“There’s a synagogue right here,” Bachmann would say. “It’s a church.”

“Do you have apples?”

“Yes, I have oranges.”

At first Bachmann’s remark seemed like a peculiar thing to say, coming on the heels of her sensible remark that, “I think we have forgotten what true tolerance means. True tolerance means allowing people to express themselves and their beliefs.”

But then it made sense.

As Bachmann would say, “We allow you to express different beliefs. You can express different beliefs that agree with us.”

I’m guessing Bachmann’s never considered the idea of laws being changed (as they have in several states) to allow same-sex couples to be who they are.


  • 1. Ann S.  |  December 2, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Don't expect sensible replies from Bachmann. It is like going to the hardware store hoping to buy fine cashmere yarn.

  • 2. AnonyGrl  |  December 2, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    This is the sound of a thousand heads hitting a thousand desks.

    Couldn't we just hit HER in the head with a thousand desks?

    OK.. no… not advocating violence. Sorry. 🙂

  • 3. Chris in Lathrop  |  December 2, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Call it 'necessary roughness'. 😉

  • 4. Mario C.  |  December 2, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Who cloned Sarah Palin ?

  • 5. johnfromco  |  December 2, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Actually, Michelle makes Sarah look smart.

  • 6. Regan  |  December 2, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    That response is as insensitive and infuriating as saying there was no marriage discrimination because blacks could marry as long as it was to another black person.

    As long as a heterosexual can marry another heterosexual of THEIR CHOOSING.
    A homosexual person should be able to marry another homosexual of their choosing then.

    THAT'S what real marriage equality is.
    It doesn't say in the Constitution what KIND of man and woman MUST marry and never did.

  • 7. johnfromco  |  December 2, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Nor does any state even bother defining sex in statute. It's vitally important, apparently, that marriages be opposite sex partnerships, but why would we need to define sex? Just one more part of the absurdity.

  • 8. Deeelaaach  |  December 3, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    Uh, actually the Constitution doesn't mention marriage *at all,* nor does it mention heterosexuals at all either! And since "homosexual" was a word coined after the Constitution was written, it's not in there either, nor is any mention of any kind of characteristic outside of the original language regarding Native and African Americans, though not by those names. I'll have to read it again to see if there were any other groups singled out. So hey, if "homosexual" marriage is not Constitutional, then neither is heterosexual marriage! What's good for the goose has to be good for the gander. Hmmm, I guess that means marriage is not constitutional! Yeah, right!

    Since heterosexual marriage is without question constitutional, it follows that same sex marriage is also constitutional; only laws (or state constitutional amendments) outlawing marriage to one group or another based on characteristics are unconstitutional according to the US Constitution. That's why we're not asking for so called special rights – we want the rights accorded to others already.

  • 9. johnfromco  |  December 3, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    I'd agree that regulating marriage is not a legitimate duty of the feds, except within DC, territories, on US ships outside of state boundaries, and the military.

    Further, I'd argue that DOMA violates the full faith clause. Isn't it ironic that gay marriage is supposedly the slippery slope to incest (which is banned because of the possibility of birth defects – a problem not particularly present in the union of a same-sex couple!), yet a marriage considered incestrious by one state must still be recognized by that state, if it was legally entered into in another state – I'm speaking of first cousin marriage, which is recognized by all 50 states if entered into in one of the 26 states that allows it. And Indiana's anti-gay "you can't go to another state to get married if you are an Indiana citizen law" doesn't apply to cousin marriage, as they granted a specific exception for marriages they consider incestrious (since first cousins can't marry for that reason in Indiana) while making sure gay Indianans can't marry. The only conclusion you can draw is that the idea of incest, at least in places that consider first cousin marriage to be incestrous, is less objectionable than gay marriage. Weird, huh?

    But equally I would argue that states do have the authority to pass laws on marriage, just they must not violate the constitution, as the constitution clearly delegates non-federal powers to the states and people. I would point at the 14th amemdment (equal protection under the law) in particular. I am still hoping for the truly wonderful trial work from our side to become available to see on video!

  • 10. Alan_Eckert  |  December 2, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    As Bachmann would say, “We allow you to express different beliefs. You can express different beliefs that agree with us.”

    This is how many of the loud fundamentalist groups think already.

    (hi from 35,000 feet!)

  • 11. johnfromco  |  December 2, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    "A member of any of these races may find himself barred by law from marrying the person of his choice and that person to him may be irreplaceable. Human beings are bereft of worth and dignity by a doctrine that would make them as interchangeable as trains." From the CA Supreme Court 1948 decision in Perez v Lippold, in response to the argument that "Well, those people can marry, they just have to marry someone of their own race."

  • 12. bjasonecf  |  December 2, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    UPDATE: Perry Appeal

    Proponents' supplemental brief filed, addressing the implications of the California Supreme Court decision on the case, as ordered by the court.

    We also expect a brief from the Plaintiffs and, possibly San Francisco. We'll add to update as they become available.

  • 13. John  |  December 2, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    KRON was also granted its request to broadcast the proceedings live. Channel 4, Bay Area people.

  • 14. Bob  |  December 2, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    The brief says (briefly, if you will) that because CASC has determined that the proponents have standing to appeal the original ruling, there is no question that Article III standing exists. I am not an attorney so I can't speak to the possiblity that standing at the state level would automatically translate to standing at the federal level but it does seem a reasonable thing to argue.

    On the other hand, the CASC decision does NOTHING to bolster the proponents' contention that Perry v Schwartzenegger was not decided correctly on its merits. If anything, they will no longer have the excuse that state ought to have defended Prop 8, so their own lousy lawyering, combined with a remarkable amount of evidence presented by our side, should result in Walker's ruling being upheld.

    It may take us longer but a favorable ruling on the merits of the case would trump an end to the appeal due to procedural considerations.

  • 15. bjasonecf  |  December 2, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    There is a set of criteria that determine Article III standing in Federal courts. The arguments and briefings seem to suggest that Proponents don't have it. Even the CaSC decision (in a footnote, if I remember correctly) specifically says that their ruling does not assert Article II standing.

  • 16. sfbob  |  December 2, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    After reading the plaintiffs' briefs I'd say you are correct.

    There is indeed a distinction between "ballot measure proponents get to defend their measure in the event the state declines to do so" and "ballot measure proponents suffer the sort of particularized harm that would grant them Article III standing."

  • 17. bjasonecf  |  December 2, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    UPDATE: Perry Appeals

    The 9th Circuit grants KRON-4's application to televise live and videotape for later broadcast, the oral arguments on Thursday, December 8, 2011 at 2:30 p.m. and at 3:30 p.m.

  • 18. Alan_Eckert  |  December 2, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Way off topic, but is there anyone in Richmond, VA that would like to meet up next week? I am headed there right now.

  • 19. nightshayde  |  December 2, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Of course gays can marry opposite sex partners — just like Michele Bachmann's husband did.

    *flutters eyelashes*

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