A Wisconsin Tea Party rally boiled over March 13 when a congressional candidate showed video of his Republican rival at a gay wedding.
Candidate Dan Mielke called police after Rachel Duffy, the wife of his opponent, attacked his display table at the rally in an effort to stop him from playing the video on his laptop computer.
The video showed Rachel and Sean Duffy celebrating the 2003 nuptials of a male couple the Duffys apparently know through their involvement with MTV’s “The Real World.” The Duffys appeared on the series in 1997.
Duffy was the first candidate to be endorsed by Sarah Palin for the 2010 congressional races.
Mielke said Rachel Duffy approached his table and demanded that he stop showing the video. When he refused, “she started yelling at me and tearing the signs off my table,” Mielke said.
According to Mielke, he tried unsuccessfully to persuade Rachel Duffy to leave his leave his property alone. “I thought, ‘I’m in trouble here – she’s on the warpath,’ so I called 911,” he said.
Duffy complained to a police officer that she was afraid her children would see the video, Mielke said. So he agreed to tape paper over the computer screen. On the paper, he wrote, “View at your own risk, Sean and Rachel at a gay wedding,” Mielke said.
Meilke said the solution was meant to shield the young Duffys from the material while still allowing Tea Party goers to lift the paper and view the video.
“Sean Duffy, in one scene, hugs the groom and says, ‘I’m so happy about you guys getting married,’” Mielke said. In another scene, Rachel Duffy “carries around a banana” in a sexually suggestive manner, according to Mielke.
After he placed paper over the screen, representatives from the Duffy campaign continued to tamper with his table. Mielke said: “Whenever I would leave the table, I would come back and my computer was unplugged.”
“I didn’t press any charges,” Mielke said. “I wasn’t’ trying to create a big incident. I was just trying to campaign.”
The Wisconsin Dells Police Department confirmed that no charges were filed.
Mielke, a businessman and organic farmer, said he showed the video to reveal Duffy’s hypocrisy. “Duffy has claimed recently that he’s 100 percent against homosexuality,” Mielke said.
Mielke said he’s opposed to “the homosexual lifestyle,” including same-sex marriage, but would work in Congress to ensure the rights of all citizens under the Constitution.
“(Duffy and I) have some pretty big differences and we do not get along,” Mielke said. “I have some concerns about his values and where he stands.”
Duffy, who is the Ashland County district attorney and has the backing of the state’s GOP establishment, is considered the frontrunner in the race to unseat David Obey, the longtime Democratic incumbent from the district, which encompasses northwestern and north central counties.
Obey has received a 70 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign.