Marcus Bachmann, husband of former Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, unwittingly became the first public face of Indiana’s newly-enacted Religious Freedom Restoration Act, after being refused service at a dress boutique because the store owner assumed he was gay.
The Bachmanns were visiting the state capitol on Thursday to lend their support to embattled Gov. Mike Pence when the incident occurred. Dorothy Holtz, owner of Dotty’s Dress Den described what happened.
“I didn’t think anything was out of the ordinary at first,” said the 59-year old self-described “devout Christian citizen,” although I don’t usually have men come in by themselves. He was very polite but the more he spoke, the more I thought he was different.”
Holtz began to suspect that Bachmann was “perhaps a homosexual man”, and because it is now within her rights to refuse service based on religious beliefs, informed Bachmann she would be unable to serve him, and asked him to leave.
“I was aghast!” said Bachmann. I’ve been shopping for Michele for years! I had no idea why the woman in the store turned on me like that. I thought perhaps she had suddenly become ill.”
For many years, Marcus has been choosing Michele’s outfits without incident. In a Chicago Tribune article from 2006, Michele recalled an upcoming meeting with then Vice President Dick Cheney. Marcus decided to outfit Michele in a more feminine style than the Congresswoman usually chose for herself:
Before Vice President Dick Cheney’s visit, Marcus hit the stores – “he’s got a good sense of style” – and came home with “a sleek, simple hourglass dress with a yoke collar in winter white.” He even bought a matching coat and shoes. “I just slipped it on,” said Michele.
Marcus reacted with shock when he realized he had fallen victim to the very measure he had come to Indiana to support.
“I was gobsmacked! I never realized a law meant to protect individuals’ religious freedoms would be twisted in such a way as to discriminate! Clearly, people are mis-applying this well-intentioned law,” Marcus said.
Shop owner Holtz said she was well within her rights and does not discriminate.
“He was getting very persnickety and didn’t seem to like anything we had to offer. He said ‘my wife wouldn’t like this one bit’ and ‘my wife wouldn’t look good in that’ so many times I began to wonder if he had a wife at all! He had on a wedding ring but anybody can buy a gold band. He said my eyeshadow was too heavy. I decided whatever his lifestyle, I didn’t want to support it, so I asked him to leave which he did.”
Gay rumors have dogged Bachmann for years, exacerbated by charges that his Christian therapy clinic administered gay conversion therapy as a matter of course, rumors the Bachmanns have fiercely denied. “Marcus is the most rugged individual I’ve ever met,” said the former Congresswoman. “There’s never been a gay bone in his body,” she added.
Holtz will reportedly continue to exercise her religions freedoms throughout her dress shop.