Erixon is a junior rhetoric and p0litics major and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last weekend as students here at Drake were moving into their apartments or dorms, reuniting with old friends, meeting new ones and getting ready for classes to start, 19-year-old Marcellus Richards Andrews of Waterloo, Iowa, was lying in a hospital room fighting for his life.
Andrews was the victim of a brutal assault in the early morning of Aug. 20 in which his attackers shouted “faggot” and repeatedly kicked him in the face. This was a violent hate crime the likes of which most of us have only seen on Law & Order, and it happened in our backyard.
Iowa has become something of a battleground for the gay rights movement since April of 2009 when the Iowa Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, and it is likely to only grow more heated as Republican presidential candidates seek the approval of Iowa’s socially conservative republican base. Michele Bachmann in particular has become a lightning rod for controversy on gay rights issues, even as she continues to dismiss those issues as “light” and “frivolous.”
From her husband’s counseling clinic that claimed to cure homosexuality through prayer to the string of gay teen suicides in her local school district that led state public health officials to label the area a “suicide contagion area,” Bachmann has been suspiciously silent on issues relating to gay rights, hate crimes legislation and bullying prevention.
I say suspiciously because for much of her early political career, Bachmann relentlessly made a name for herself as a fearless social crusader, picketed at abortion clinics, used state funds to open a charter school that promoted religious views and led the fight in the Minnesota Senate for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, a practice that was, and regrettably still is, already illegal. And yet now, as she seeks the Republican presidential nomination she is adamantly staying on message and steering away from talking explicitly about gay marriage.
Now as much as I appreciate her decision to hold back on the hatemongering, it is disingenuous, it is a distortion of her views and priorities and it is misleading to voters. Intolerance may be a closely held value in the Bachmann family, but it is not in my family, and it is not in the family of Marcellus Richard Andrews.