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LGBT advocates send a message at Bachmann event

December 18, 2011|By Alana Semuels
  • Michele Bachmann visits at Harvest Baptist Church in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
Michele Bachmann visits at Harvest Baptist Church in Fort Dodge, Iowa. (Eric Gay / Associated Press )

Reporting from Clarion, Iowa — Protesters crashed Michele Bachmann's meet and greet with voters at a Pizza Ranch restaurant in this small Iowa town Sunday, waving rainbow flags and signs to draw attention to what they say are a high number of LGBT suicides in Bachmann's Minnesota congressional district.

"I'm very opposed to a lot of her stances on social issues," said Quentin Hill, 18, a University of Iowa student who organized the protest, bringing about 10 friends to sit among the crowd of about 40 in Bachmann's third event of the day, where she shook hands and signed autographs.

In one area, he said, there have been 12 teen suicides in the last two years, and nine have been LGBT students. "Her congressional district has one of the highest suicide rates in the country and over and over again, she's been addressed at events about it, and she has always beat around the bush as to why she hasn't taken action."

As Bachmann passed through the room, shaking hands, signing autographs and exhorting people to vote Jan. 3, the students waited for Bachmann to take questions. When she didn't, they waited outside with two rainbow flags, waving them as Bachmann boarded her big blue bus and pulled away. An older woman, Luann Krabbe, waved a sign that said "gay-friendly iowan," which Bachmann had signed in black pen.

"Some of us have questions that not everyone's going to ask at something like this, questions like how's that going, praying away the gay? Because her hubby's a pro at that," said Krabbe, who is a Democrat.

Krabbe was referring to reports that Bachmann's counseling center offered controversial reparative therapy to homosexual patients.

Hill said that he planned to go home and find a future event where he could ask Bachmann questions.

"If you want to be president of the United States, you need to represent all Americans -- Muslim Americans, gay Americans, Hispanic Americans," Hill said. "Because no matter what the word in front is, we're all Americans."

Bachmann did not acknowledge the protesters and her campaign was not immediately available for comment. But the protesters stood out among the voters and Bachmann supporters in the room, including George Lehman, 62.

Lehman said he still wasn't sure who he would support, but that he is looking for someone who shares his conservative values.

"Conservative values; marriage between a man and a woman, right to life, that's what's important, he said.

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