Michele Bachmann, whose fear of gay people is well-documented, has divulged in the past that she has a member of her family who is gay, adding that such a lifestyle is "not funny. It's a very sad life. It's part of Satan, I think, to say this is gay. It's anything but gay." She went on to say that, "because if you're involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it's bondage. Personal bondage, personal despair, and personal enslavement. And that's why this is so dangerous."
The media has known about the existence of this family member, Bachmann's stepsister Helen LaFave, for some time. But as Bachmann's rhetoric against gays become increasingly strident, there is greater and greater curiosity regarding the relationship between the two. LaFave, who is openly gay and lives with her partner Nia Vronski, has taken issue with Bachmann's strong anti-gay politics since she proposed a gay-marriage ban in Minnesota. The Daily Beast reported how Bachmann's relationship with her stepsiblings grew "strained" over the issue of gay rights.
"Helen always liked Michele, always," says Linda Cielinski, one of Bachmann's other stepsisters. "They lived together as teenage girls. They were very close at that time." Bachmann's anti-gay activism, Cielinski says, "was a hit to the gut."
And so, in April 2006, when the Minnesota Senate judiciary committee met for a hearing on Bachmann's proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, Helen LaFave, Wronski, and several relatives including Cielinski were all in the gallery. "I wanted Michele to put a face to this whole thing," says Cielinski. "These were family members she was hurting."