You can’t mock Michele Bachmann’s husband for being effeminate just because you’re a Democrat.
Oh man, Marcus Bachmann. Nominally a therapist — and potential future first First Husband — he's been in the news of late for running these “clinics,” which don't necessarily promise to turn you straight if you're gay — but will totally help you do so if you're into it. But, here is the funny thing: Marcus Bachmann seems kinda gay. He sways, he lisps, he minces with the power of a hundred Liberaces! With one sibilant S, there is blood in the water, and the sharks have come to feast.
Liberal heroes from Jon Stewart to Dan Savage have picked up on this meme, which — combined with her terrible lady migraines — looks like an issue that could derail Michele’s run for the White House. And it would seem somewhat poetic, if the husband of a super-conservative politician who runs reparative therapy clinics turned out to be gay himself. But in the end, there’s one big problem: calling Michele Bachmann's husband gay is actually pretty homophobic.
I want to get this out of the way early: yes, if Marcus Bachmann is, in his heart of hearts, a homosexual and runs a practice that “cures” gay people, his hypocrisy is astounding. And in the past, I've felt a certain amount of joy when people who actively hurt the LGBT cause — like Larry Craig or Ted Haggard — are revealed to be gay. And the fact that he's gone on the record to say that gay people need to be “disciplined” brings up a host of psycho-sexual issues. And if someone finds him in the arms of a gay lover, please call him out on that! But his potential hypocrisy is not the real issue.
No, the real issue is the willingness progressives have shown to embrace a schoolyard view of what makes someone “gay.” Take, for example, this Daily Show segment, in which Stewart gleefully mocks Bachmann for — get this! — dancing with his wife. The premise of this joke is simply this: Marcus Bachmann knows a bit too much about dance, or shows himself to be a bit too eager about it, to be a heterosexual man. And Dan Savage (who can’t use “I’m a comedian” as an excuse) even went on the air in his podcast to claim that Bachmann's speaking voice reveals his homosexuality — an argument employed by middle-school bullies across the nation. Dan It-Gets-fucking-Better Savage.
Gay baiting is nothing new — but I imagine most liberals would think of it as a Republican tactic. When an attack ad aired decrying Kay Barnes (a Democrat from Missouri) for her “San Francisco values," there was a liberal outcry. Same when the Wall Street Journal ran a picture of then Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan playing softball on the front page. Liberals criticized such moves as childish then; what makes them okay now?
It's like Democrats imagine it’s fine to mock Bachmann for his perceived gayness, because they are Democrats — of course they’re not homophobes. And they're just holding him to his own standard: if he wants to work so hard against gayness, he's practically asking for people to examine his own sexuality. It's fair game because he was the one who brought it up in the first place.
That’s probably politically expedient, and it even feels fair — in a law-of-the-playground kind of way. But it also flies in the face of everything the gay-rights movement, and supposedly, Democrats, support: the idea that your sexuality — perceived or real — shouldn’t affect your opportunities. Making fun of Marcus Bachmann for being fey perpetuates the same negative ideas that any gay baiting does: a man can’t dance and a woman can’t play softball without being gay.
And if Marcus Bachmann is gay? Well, that's pretty much between him and his wife — not us. And anyway, there are plenty (too many) legitimately abhorrent political things that he and his wife have gotten up to. Let’s focus on those.