The news that Michele Bachmann is throwing in the towel, not seeking reelection in 2014, is a triumph for LGBT activists and all progressives. And it's a stunning blow to the tea party and the evangelical right. Bachmann, just a year ago running for the Republican nomination for president, saw the world rapidly transforming all around her, the walls closing in as her progressive Democratic opponent, Jim Graves, got within a few thousand votes in the election last fall, and as her state will soon have gay and lesbian couples walking down the aisle in wedded bliss.
Dubbed the Tea Party Queen, Bachmann has been royalty on the far right, including among hardcore anti-gay activists who carried her to victory in the state legislature and in each of her Minnesota congressional elections since 2007. Bachmann ran on extreme homophobia, having courted some of the most horrifically anti-gay figures in the country, such as the evangelical rocker Bradlee Dean, who once cited Sharia law's call for the execution of homosexuals and praised Muslim fundamentalists for being "more moral" than Christian evangelicals in that regard.
Bachmann and her husband Marcus have owned and operated "pray away the gay" clinics in Minnesota, and she viewed getting an anti-gay marriage amendment on the ballot as one of her crowning achievements, working hard as a state legislator to lay the groundwork for it. Bachmann is the epitome of a homophobe -- someone who fears homosexuals -- and that was no clearer than in the bizarre incident in which she reportedly ran out of a public restroom claiming that she was being held against her will after a lesbian activist and ex-nun merely tried to address her in conversation.
When Bachmann's efforts to get an anti-gay constitutional amendment on the ballot finally came to fruition last year, the people of Minnesota said "no" to her and to the intolerant right, voting down the amendment and ushering in marriage equality. It must have been a terrible night inside the Bachmann household when gay marriage was signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton two weeks ago. Minnesota made history, becoming the first state in the Midwest to approve gay marriage legislatively. Bachmann's world crumbled right before her eyes.
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