“Stunned.” That’s how Michele Bachmann’s stepsister says she feels about the Minnesota Representative’s anti-gay stances.
Helen LeFave, whose father married Michele’s mother, once spent a great deal of time with Michele, shared confidences with her and even looked up to her. Now, in an interview with the New York Times, she discloses why she as a lesbian feels compelled to speak out against Michele Bachmann’s brand of politics.
The New York Times reports on an interview with Helen in which Helen tells of how she and Michele remained friends into adulthood. Still, Helen felt betrayed when Michele, as a state senator in Minnesota, began calling gay people mentally ill and evil. Helen was particularly hurt by the call for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage:
“It felt so divorced from having known me, from having known somebody who’s gay,” said Helen, a soft-spoken woman with a gentle air. “I was just stunned.”
She told Michele as much, in a letter dated Nov. 23, 2003. She sent copies to her four siblings, her father and one of Michele’s brothers, and kept one herself. In the letter she described her “hurt and disappointment that my stepsister is leading this charge.”
“You’ve taken aim at me,” Helen wrote to Michele. Referring to Nia, she added: “You’ve taken aim at my family.”
Michele, she said, never acknowledged the letter in any way.
Of course, Michele Bachmann’s anti-gay stand is well known today. She rallied against the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, claiming she would bring back the damaging open service ban, and has said before that she believes gay marriage intrinsically weakens so-called traditional heterosexual marriage.
Furthermore, Michele’s husband Marcus Bachmann has repeatedly had to state that his religious counseling outfit does not offer reparative or so-called conversion therapy for gay people — despite two separate investigations that have shown the contrary.
However, when, as part of her 2006 ascent to the US House of Representatives, Michele Bachmann began talking about a “family member” who suffered the “enslavement” of homosexuality, Helen felt particularly betrayed.
Bachmann, it seems, was wiling to cut ties with her stepsister in a very public way in order to appeal to the anti-gay Evangelical crowd.
Now Bachmann faces a tight reelection campaign for her House seat against challenger Jim Graves, and Helen is going on the offensive by telling her story.
To say this is payment in kind for the way in which Michele has treated Helen and her same-sex spouse would be an unkind conclusion to draw, however it certainly is evident that Helen is aware of what she is doing and the impact it could have. She isn’t however concerning herself with Bachmann’s reelection.
Instead, Helen is using her story to fight Bachmann’s “sad legacy” in the state, the proposed marriage amendment which voters will consider on November 6 . The amendment would codify the state’s existing ban on marriage equality and make it doubly hard to overturn.
Helen, in the interview, says she has been compelled “to speak out for fairness for those of us who are being judged and told our lives and relationships are somehow less.”