Former congresswoman Michele Bachmann tops the list of members of the newly announced anti-LGBT evangelical advisory board unveiled Tuesday by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
The 26 members of the board are a who’s who of individuals who’ve sought to undermine LGBT rights. Members were announced on the same day Trump was set to meet with evangelical leaders at Trump Tower in New York City. Bachmman is the first name on the list of members, which is in alphabetical order.
Bachmann, who formerly represented Minnesota’s 6th congressional district in the U.S. House, is a Tea Party favorite and known for holding anti-LGBT positions. She ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2012, but dropped out after an abysmal showing in her home state of Iowa.
In the course of her career in Congress, Bachmann voted against hate crimes protections legislation, repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Although she was elected to Congress too late to have voted on the Federal Marriage Amendment, Bachmann was a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage and backed a Minnesota state constitutional amendment in 2012 that sought to ban same-sex marriage, but failed at the ballot.
Throughout her presidential campaign, Bachmann reiterated many times her belief marriage should be restricted to one man, one woman and was among the candidates who signed a pledge from the National Organization for Marriage, committing herself to oppose same-sex marriage as president. By signing the document, Bachmann promised to back a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage throughout the country and to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court.
Bachmann was also among the candidates who have pledged to restore “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” if elected to the White House.
As a presidential candidate, Bachmann expressed indifference to anti-gay bullying over the course of her campaign. Asked what she would do about bullying at rally in Costa Mesa, Calif., in September, Bachmann replied, “That’s not a federal issue.” The lawmaker has become associated with the issue of anti-gay bullying because of the rash of teen suicides in her former congressional district.
The most high-profile anti-LGBT aspect of her presidential campaign was the revelation that her clinic she co-owned with her husband Marcus Bachmann administers widely discredited “ex-gay” therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation. Throughout her campaign, Bachmann declined to answer questions about the clinic.
Joining Bachmann on Trump’s board are others with anti-LGBT views, including Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith & Freedom Coalition and James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family. Also on the list is Harry Jackson, pastor of the Maryland-based Hope Christian Church who sought to block the legalization of same-sex marriage in D.C.
Another member is Robert Jeffries, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, who has a history of virulently anti-LGBT comments. Among them is making the dubious claim that “70 percent of the gay population” has HIV/AIDS and therefore gay people should be barred from the armed forces.
Trump announces the anti-LGBT advisory board less than a week after saying he’d be a better friend to the LGBT people as president than his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. The Washington Blade has placed a request to comment in with the Trump campaign seeking for explanation on why affiliating with these anti-LGBT figures doesn’t undermine the pledge.
The candidate’s advisory board is similar to the anti-LGBT “marriage” board established by Marco Rubio and the “religious freedom” board created by Ted Cruz over the course of their failed presidential campaigns. Of the course of his campaign for the Republican nomination, Trump lacked a “marriage” and religious advisory board unlike his competitors.