Michele Bachmann goes quiet on homosexuality

With a new poll in Iowa showing the tight race between Michelle Bachmann and Mitt Romney, Jan Crawford and John Dickerson report on where the candidates stand in the GOP race.

Iowa poll: Bachmann, Romney lead GOP race

On CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, host Bob Schieffer asked GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann if she believes homosexuality is a choice. Bachmann did not answer the question.

"You know, I firmly believe that people need to make their own decisions about that," she said. "But I am running for the presidency of the United States. I am not running to be anyone's judge. And that's where I'm coming from in this race."

In the same interview, Bachmann dodged two questions about whether she saw same-sex marriage as a litmus test in nominating judges. Declining to directly answer the question, she said only that "My primary test will be the Constitution."

A social conservative with a long record of strongly opposing gay marriage - she proposed a constitutional amendment to ban it while in the Minnesota statehouse - Bachmann, whose stepsister is gay, reportedly cast gay people as having "a very sad life" in a 2004 speech.

According to the Daily Beast, Bachmann added that "to say that this is gay" is "part of Satan."

Yet Bachmann has been relatively quiet on gay rights issues during her presidential flirtation and subsequent run; the issues page on her website only includes a glancing reference to her desire to "strengthen the family and defend marriage," and she stumbled when asked about a federal ban on same-sex marriage during her GOP presidential debate debut.

Bachmann first said she "believe[s] in self-determination for the states" before eventually clarifying that she supports a federal constitutional amendment. It was not the sort of red meat comment that those who had long followed her career might have expected.

Bachmann's husband, Marcus, runs a state- and federally-subsidized "Christian counseling" clinic that some say works to help people turn from gay to straight; Marcus Bachmann denies that allegation, saying that "if someone comes in a homosexual and they want to stay homosexual, I don't have a problem with that."

But Marcus Bachmann appears to be on record comparing homosexuals to "barbarians" who "need to be educated," according to the recording at left. Speaking on a radio talk show last summer, according to the video, Bachmann added that "they need to be disciplined."

"Just because someone feels it or thinks it doesn't mean that we are supposed to go down that road," the recording continues. "That's what is called the sinful nature. And we have a responsibility as parents and as authority figures not to encourage such thoughts and feelings from moving into the action steps. And let's face it: what is our culture, what is our public education system doing today? They are giving full, wide-open doors to children, not only giving encouragement to think it but to actually encourage action steps. That's why when we understand what truly is the percentage of homosexuals in this country, it's small. But by these open doors, I can see and we are experiencing, that it is starting to increase."

Marcus Bachmann's apparent objection to what he sees as public schools' encouragement of homosexuality seems to fit with the Daily Beast's report that Michele Bachmann, who homeschooled her children before sending them to private Christian schools, came to see the public schools as corrupted by "politically correct attitudes, values, and beliefs."

We reached out to Bachmann's campaign three times on Thursday to ask if the candidate shares her husband's beliefs on homosexuality; her spokesperson did not provide an answer.

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