A trio of Republican presidential candidates have signed a pledge promising to oppose same-sex marriage if elected to the White House and to establish a presidential commission to “investigate harassment of traditional marriage supporters.”
The three GOP candidates — former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum — each penned their names to the pledge, which was written by the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage.
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, praised the three Republican presidential candidates in a statement for signing the pledge.
“Many candidates say they support traditional marriage (like President Obama!) but three GOP presidential candidates today stand head and shoulders above the crowd as marriage champions, for their willingness to go beyond words to commit to concrete actions,” Brown said. ”We are grateful to Michelle Bachmann, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum for their courage and their leadership in standing up for marriage, and so are millions of Americans who care about protecting marriage.”
According to a NOM statement, an opportunity to sign the marriage pledge will be extended to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who’s widely expected to enter the race for the White House, as well as other major candidates if they enter the race.
Christian Berle, deputy executive director of the National Log Cabin Republicans, said the Republican candidates who signed the pledge are getting “nothing but bad press” because it has “detracted from our party’s commitment to addressing issues that matter to all Americans.”
“The last thing Republicans need or want is another group pushing the same outdated social agenda under new branding,” Berle said.
By signing the document, the three presidential candidates pledge to:
* support and send to the states a U.S. constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage throughout the country;
* defend in court the Defense of Marriage of Act, a 1996 law that prohibit federal recognition of same-sex marriage;
* appoint judges and a U.S. attorney general who “will respect the original meaning” of the U.S. Constitution;
* support legislation that allowing D.C. resident to vote on whether to abrogate the district’s same-sex marriage law;
* and appoint a presidential commission to “investigate harassment of traditional marriage supporters.”
The persecution faced by those who speak out against same-sex marriage has been a frequent claim from those who oppose gay nuptials.
Last month, during a Senate hearing on DOMA, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) asserted Republicans wanted to invite a witness to testify against in favor of the anti-gay law. Grassley didn’t name the potential witness, but said she declined to appear because of “the threats and intimidation that have been leveled not only against her but her friends and family as a result of her support of DOMA.”
Following the passage of Proposition 8, which ended same-sex marriage in California, several Mormon churches were vandalized and white powder resembling anthrax was sent to Mormon leaders. The Mormon Church was seen as having a lead role in the campaign to pass the marriage ban. However, no incidents of physical violence against supporters of Prop 8 were reported.
Romney’s decision to sign the pledge is noteworthy because he earlier declined to sign a similar anti-gay marriage pledge pushed by Iowa activist Bob Vander Plaats. At the time, Romney said he wouldn’t sign the pledge — which was signed by Pawlenty and Bachmann — because he believed it would be “undignified and inappropriate.”
The Romney campaign couldn’t be reached to comment on why he would sign one pledge opposing same-sex marriage, but not another.
The former Massachusetts governor has consistently opposed same-sex marriage. When marriage rights for gay couples were legalized in the Bay State, Romney called for a state constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. Romney has also called for a Federal Marriage Amendment banning same-sex marriage throughout the country.
In a statement to the Washington Blade, Berle took particular exception with Romney’s decision to pen his name to the pledge.
“As Republicans who want to see Barack Obama out of the White House, it is unfortunate that Gov. Romney has chosen to relegate himself to a position that’s out of step with America,” Berle said. “Our country needs candidates who will offer serious solutions on issues like runaway government spending, the debt ceiling, not inserting government into citizen’s personal lives.”
The absent signature of former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who’s also pursuing the Republican nomination, is also noteworthy. Like Romney, Pawlenty also declined to sign the marriage pledge pushed by Vander Plaats. However, Pawlenty said he opposes same-sex marriage and has called for a state and federal constitutional amendments banning gay nuptials.
In an e-mail to the Blade, Maggie Gallagher, NOM’s co-founder and chair, said a Pawlenty spokesperson called her and confirmed Pawlenty wouldn’t sign the pledge. The Pawlenty campaign couldn’t be reached to comment on the matter.
Bachmann and Santorum have repeatedly spoken out against same-sex marriage. Since the start of her presidential campaign, Bachmann has said she’s fine with New York’s recent decision to legalize same-sex marriage, but also has said she’d back a Federal Marriage Amendment, which would rescind marriage rights there.
Last week, Santorum, who’s also consistently backed a Federal Marriage Amendment, said during a Denver, Colo., speech that New York has “destroyed marriage” by legalizing gay nuptials.
“It is not fine with me that New York has destroyed marriage,” Santorum said. “It is not fine with me that New York has set a template that can cause great division in this country. There is not 50 definitions of marriage.”
UPDATE: On Friday, Brown announced in an appearance on MSNBC that Pawlenty would, in fact, sign the pledge. The NOM president said marriage is “an important issue on the federal level and we’re very excited that not only three, but now a fourth candidate has signed on — Tim Pawlenty we got word last night is signing on.”
Watch the video of Brown’s remarks (via Think Progress):