Michele Bachmann in 2004: Homosexuality is "personal enslavement"
Updated 3:59 p.m. Eastern Time
Michele Bachmann's emergence as one of the top contenders for the Republican presidential nomination has meant increased scrutiny for the socially-conservative Minnesota representative. Her beliefs on homosexuality, in particular, have come under the microscope - despite the fact that Bachmann has repeatedly refused to discuss them since entering the presidential race.
Bachmann's beliefs have come under scrutiny because of her past record on gay issues as well as her family's source of income. While in the Minnesota statehouse, Bachmann championed a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Her husband, Marcus Bachmann, runs a Christian counseling clinic where some patients say they were offered therapy on converting from gay to straight; hidden camera footage taken by a gay rights group shows a counselor at the clinic telling one man that "God has created you for heterosexuality." Marcus Bachmann is on record comparing homosexuals to "barbarians" who "need to be educated," but he has denied that his clinic engages in such therapy, which mental health professionals say is ineffective and harmful.
Bachmann's campaign - and Bachmann herself - has declined to answer repeated requests from CBS News for an explanation of her beliefs about homosexuality. But in 2004, when she was a state senator, Bachmann gave an hour-long speech outlining her opinions at the time.
Audio from the speech was posted earlier this year by an anti-Bachmann website called dumpbachmann.com, which identified the venue as the EdWatch.com National Education Conference. Bachmann is introduced by name in the recording, and there is little question that she is the speaker. CBSNews.com has excerpted a few of the more controversial comments in the video above; you can listen to the full speech here.
Some of Bachmann's comments from the speech have been reported by mainstream media outlets, including Bachmann's characterization of homosexuality as "part of Satan." Yet others have attracted little notice.
Bachmann says in the speech that she is not "bashing" people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender, saying "we need to have profound compassion for people who are dealing with the very real issue of sexual dysfunction in their life, and sexual identity disorders."
"It's sad," she continues. "Any of you who have members of your family that are in the lifestyle - we have a member of our family that is - this is not funny. It's a very sad life." Bachmann has a stepsister who is gay.
Bachmann argues that legalizing same-sex marriage - which she describes as "bringing it into the mainstream if you will, giving it a legitimacy" - will impact all Americans, "particularly the schools." She says it means teachers will be forced to teach "sexual identity" in a way that suggests homosexuality is acceptable.
She says "children would have to be taught a falsehood because they're in a captive audience in the public schools, they couldn't get out."
Later, Bachmann says being "involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle" amounts to "personal bondage, personal despair and personal enslavement." She also describes homosexuality as "sexual anarchy." She goes on to lament efforts by gay rights advocates to convince Americans that homosexuality is "just another thing, with a shrug of their shoulders."
Bachmann complains that people with her views have been cast as hateful in the media while supporters of "the gay cause...come off looking very insightful and very thoughtful." She goes on to point out that gay rights efforts get donations from companies like Proctor and Gamble, saying she no longer uses the company's products because it encouraged its employees to work on behalf of same-sex marriage.
Bachmann also complains about claims that homosexuality is immutable, saying, "you need to know there is not one scientific study anywhere that has shown that this is an immutable physical characteristic."
She tells her audience that the popular television and music are being used to push gay rights, complaining that "there's no shortage...of gay characters on TV." Even straight characters, she says, are shown experimenting with homosexuality.
She then ticks off shows that feature LGBT characters, like "ER," "Two and a Half Men" and "Will and Grace," adding, "not coincidentally, many of these shows are very popular with kids."
"Today under 'Will and Grace,' the attitude is, 'hey, I'm gay, so what?'" says Bachmann. "It's the apathy factor that's set in."
"It's even entertaining to tell a straight man that they should change, but tell a gay man that he should change, and that is considered homophobic blasphemy," she says.
Bachmann goes on to point to what she sees as a gay agenda pushed by George Michael, Melissa Etheridge and in a kiss between Britney Spears and Madonna on an MTV awards show. She then says the problem also exists in local communities, showing a clip of an "elementary teacher teaching his students about gayness."
She says the pro-gay message being sent to kids amounts to "child abuse," adding, "You don't think that's intentional, the message that's being given to these kids?"
"We've all but lost the generation that is under 30 years of age," says Bachmann. "Some would say even under 40 years of age. Because this generation has already shrugged its shoulders, gotten on the boat of apathy and said, 'Yeah, hey, what's wrong [with being gay]? It's just another choice.'"
A Bachmann spokesperson did not respond to an inquiry over whether Bachmann stands by her 2004 comments.