GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann says gay people do have the right to get married -- so long as they're planning on tying the knot with a member of the opposite sex.
The Minnesota congresswoman was campaigning in Iowa Wednesday addressing a group of high school students when Jane Schmidt, president of Waverly High School's Gay-Straight Alliance, confronted her on same-sex marriage rights.
(Video of the exchange above, via CNN iReporter Anelia Dimitrova)
Bachmann had just finished explaining that the purpose of government was to ensure that the civil rights of all Americans are protected.
"We all have the same civil rights," Bachmann said, according to the Des Moines Register, providing an opportunity for Schmidt to press her.
"Then, why can't same-sex couples get married?" Schmidt asked.
"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."
Bachmann later went on to clarify her belief 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."
While Bachmann's comments are unlikely to prove helpful to gay marriage advocates, they are consistent with her record on the broader issue of gay rights.
Bachmann has referred to homosexuality as a condition or disorder and claimed that it encourages child abuse and "enslavement." She was also a vocal opponent of repealing "don't ask, don't tell," and said earlier this year that she would reinstate the military policy if elected.
Bachmann's husband, Marcus, created a stir earlier this year when an undercover sting video captured his Christian counseling clinic pushing the controversial practice of "praying the gay away." Conversion therapy of all types has been widely debunked by scientific studies.
Team Bachmann also drew fire last month when a clip surfaced showing her Iowa campaign co-chair, Tamara Scott, arguing that the legalization of gay marriage would inevitably lead to people marrying turtles and inanimate objects such as the Eiffel Tower.
Here's the full transcript of the exchange between Bachmann and the high school students, via the Register:
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.