(Photo: REUTERS/Jeff Haynes)
Michele Bachmann spoke to members of Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition in Minnesota recently and pledged support for a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman.
Minnesota Rep. Bachmann, who dropped out of the Republican presidential nomination race earlier this month, told members of the conservative group that met in Eagan, Minn., Friday that she was "back on the team" and ready to push for passage of the marriage amendment she first proposed as a state senator, Minnesota Public Radio reported.
The group met to discuss ways to approve a marriage amendment that will appear on November's ballot. The measure is to ensure that neither courts nor future legislatures can legalize gay marriage.
Bachmann proposed tying the measure to the issue of right to vote. "I think if you want to talk to people who are not interested in talking about the morality you can also come at it as 'should people be allowed to vote,'" she said. Her statement prompted a minister in the back of the room to promptly pray for her.
When another minister from Minneapolis asked her how he could address the issue with parishioners who are parents of gay children, Bachmann said she wasn't an expert. People should get to decide the laws they live under, she emphasized.
Teresa Collette, a law professor from University of St. Thomas who supports traditional marriage, suggested another way to frame the issue. "If you believe that marriage is a pre-political institution, an institution that existed before the state of Minnesota was a twinkle in some explorer's eye... then, you're going to believe that marriage has an intrinsic nature," she said. "And that nature is a permanent sexual union between a man and a woman for purposes of creating the next generation and raising them to responsible adulthood. And so it's not a fight over who gets to get married, it's just you don't fit the category."
Jordan Sekulow, chief counsel of the D.C.-based American Center for Law and Justice, cautioned ministers against violating their tax-exempt status. "When you talk about moral issues – so not just like how to vote on an amendment, abortion, or gay marriage or a marriage amendment but on moral issues – you cannot directly tie it to a candidate," he said.
Jim Anderson, pastor of The Harbor in Hastings, Minn., and a board member of the Minnesota Family Council, said such meetings help rally pastors who want to speak out. "Most pastors in Minnesota get intimidating letters telling us we can't do things that constitutionally we can. And I think that's been a big negative influence on the freedom of speech," he said. "I think more and more people are learning now that they actually have greater latitude short of endorsing a candidate from the pulpit but they can talk about issues freely, so that's important."
Meanwhile, a Public Policy Polling survey released Friday showed that 48 percent of voters support the amendment while 44 percent are opposed.