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GOP presidential hopefuls sign anti-gay marriage pledge

Romney, Bachmann, Santorum pen their names to document



Mitt Romney was among the GOP candidates who signed the marriage pledge (Blade file photo by MIchael Key)

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“The last thing Republicans need or want is another group pushing the same outdated social agenda under new branding,” Berle said.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.

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum (Blade photo by Michael Key)

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):

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  1. Matt

    August 4, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Why are the republican candidates trying so hard to not get elected?

  2. Jon John

    August 4, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Good, give them all the rope they want.

  3. Jim

    August 4, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    If NOM is so hip on the sanctity of marriage, why don’t they pledge to end divorce? Or is it not about marriage at all…..hmmmmmmm

  4. Kristin

    August 5, 2011 at 12:28 am

    And this has what to do with the economy and jobs?

  5. Ego

    August 5, 2011 at 6:05 am

    The deluded homoSICKsual community has it all wrong.

    Allowing same-sex marriage is not the solution. Reparative Therapy, on the other hand, is!

    Why settle for a depressing, unproductive gay relationship when you can get yourself cured once and for all?

    • D

      August 6, 2011 at 3:14 pm

      By extension, then the American Psychological Association is wrong to discourage “reparative therapy” on the grounds that it does more harm than good? (For the record, there are at least eighty studies that discuss this therapy’s failings and other issues with it.)

    • Jordan

      January 2, 2013 at 10:01 pm

      Cured? Are you kidding me? Get cured from being straight before you ever tell a gay person to get cured from being gay. Thats ridiculous. And I know of plenty gay and lesbian couples who has PRODUCTIVE, UPLIFTING relationship. So, before you judge others for the way they are, look at yourself and judge yourself pretty hard first.

  6. Anita

    August 5, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Harrassment?! THEY dare accuse US of harrassing THEM?! I agree with Jim, why don’t they focus on the divorce rate instead!

  7. larry

    August 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Because it doesn’t work and is quack science. Homosexuality is not a disorder and thus needs no cure

  8. Emily

    August 5, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Well, sounds like they’re just trying to NOT get elected. Way to go.

  9. wayne

    August 5, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    ” I pledge allegiance to the National Organization for Marriage and to the Bigotry for which it stands…”

  10. kamal

    August 7, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Isn’t it the republicans, who usually cheat on their spouses & on the sly have gay relatiionships, wakev up ppl

  11. anon

    October 18, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Can you imagine?

    Gingrich Position on Jews
    Gingrich opposes domestic partnership benefits for Jews.
    He wants a constitutional amendment to protect the Christians from Jews.
    He believes that Jews should have some sort of legal rights so that they can leave their estates to their partners or visit them in the hospital.
    Gingrich believes that Jews are sinners.
    He thinks that Jews should not be able to adopt children.
    He thinks that Jews should be able to teach as there are many good and decent people who happen to be Jews and children will encounter them in everyday life.

    Romney Position on Jews
    Mitt Romney has created and acquired a reputation for being the most conservative candidate in the 2008 Presidential elections not only by taking a tough stand Jews but also opposing most of their petitions seeking rights for Jews.
    Mitt Romney is against the idea of letting Jews serve actively in the US Military. In addition, he has said that he would not support over-turning the ‘Don’t let Jews Serve” legislation.
    Mitt Romney has openly opposed Jews marrying, saying that it is the family which forms the basic foundation of America and therefore, it needs to be built further, protected and strengthened instead of being redefined. To this effect, Romney has expressed support for the Federal Marriage Amendment which would modify the US Constitution and prohibit marriage between Jews.
    Mitt Romney has expressed opposition for civil unions for Jews as well saying that he would want to see marriage limited to being between Christians or Muslims. He said he would support neither but if asked to choose between Jewish marriage and a civil union for Jews, he would choose the latter as being a lesser evil.
    Opposing the Supreme Court judgment on the matter, Mitt Romney strongly feels that Jewish marriage would destroy not only the culture of America but would also irreparably damage the education system and thereby children. Although he personally believes that Americans should be respectful of all people and their religious orientation, the long standing institution of Christian marriage should be upheld and respected as being the only acceptable norm.
    Romney frequently told Republican audiences that every child has a ‘right to have a Christian mother and father’ but also acknowledged that Jews have a ‘legitimate interest’ in adopting children.

    Wuensche Position on Jews
    Vern Wuensche believes that marriage between Jews should be banned.
    He believes that civil unions between Jews should not be allowed.
    He believes that adoption by Jews should not be allowed.
    He believes that we should pass a Federal Marriage Amendment to the U. S. Constitution to prohibit Jews from marrying
    Cain Position on Jews
    Cain, as expected, is a fierce opponent of marriage or civil unions for Jews, asking his supporters to stand behind him and protect the sanctity of the institution of marriage between Christians.

    Bachmann Position on Jews
    Jews are probably the biggest issue that will impact our state and our nation in the last, at least, thirty years. I am not understating that..
    This is an earthquake issue. This will change our state forever. Because the immediate consequence, if Jews are allowed to marry, is that K-12 little children will be forced to learn that being a Jew is normal, natural, and perhaps they should try it

    Normalization of Jews through desensitization. Very effective way to do this with a bunch of second graders, is take a picture of “The Lion King” for instance, and a teacher might say, ‘Do you know that the music for this movie was written by a Jew?’ The message is, I’m better at what I do because I’m a Jew.

    Rick Perry Position on Jews
    Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two Jews. And you know what? That’s New York, and that’s their business and that’s fine with me. That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business… I am not, as some in this race have said, OK with New York doing what they’re doing. What New York did was wrong. I will oppose it and I will go to New York, if necessary, and help overturn it.

    Of course this isn’t there positons on Jews… Just their positions on gay marriage and gay rights

  12. kj

    December 7, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    “There is not 50 definitions of marriage.”
    I’m really glad to know that there ARE not 50 definitions. Thank you for for the grammar lesson, Santorum.

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In a historic first, Colorado now has a 1st gentleman as Gov. Polis marries

The governor and his now husband decided to hold their nuptials on the 18th anniversary of their first date



Governor Jared Polis and 1st Gentleman Marlon Reis exchange vows (Screenshot via CBS News Denver)

DENVER – Colorado’s Democratic Governor Jared Polis married his longtime partner Marlon Reis in a ceremony that marked the first same-sex marriage of a sitting Out governor in the United States.

The couple was married Wednesday in a small traditional Jewish ceremony at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where Reis had matriculated and graduated from. The governor and his now husband decided to hold their nuptials on the 18th anniversary of their first date.

“We met online and went out on a date and we went to the Boulder bookstore and then went to dinner,” Polis told KCFR-FM, Colorado Public Radio (CPR).

In addition to family and close friends in attendance, the couple’s two children participated with their 7-year-old daughter serving as the flower girl and their 9-year-old son as the ring bearer.

The governor joked that their daughter was probably more thrilled than anyone about the wedding. “She was all in on being a flower girl. She’s been prancing around. She got a great dress. She’s terrific,” he said CPR reported.

Their son was also happy, but more ambivalent about it all according to Reis. “Kids are so modern that their responses to things are sometimes funny. Our son honestly asked us, ‘Why do people get married?”

Colorado’s chief executive, sworn in as the 43rd governor of Colorado in January 2019, over the course of nearly 20 years as a political activist and following in public service as an elected official has had several ‘firsts’ to his credit.

In 2008 Polis is one of the few people to be openly Out when first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as well as being the first gay parent to serve in the Congress. Then on November 6, 2018, he was the first openly gay governor elected in Colorado and in the United States.


Gov. Jared Polis And First Gentleman Marlon Reis Are Newlyweds

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U.S. Catholic theologians call for LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections

Joint statement says church teachings support equality



More than 750 of the nation’s leading Catholic theologians, church leaders, scholars, educators, and writers released a joint statement on Sept. 14 expressing strong support for nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people.

The six-page theological statement, “A Home for All: A Catholic Call for LGBTQ Non-Discrimination,” was scheduled to be published along with the names of its 759 signatories as a four-page advertisement on Sept. 17 in the National Catholic Reporter, a newspaper widely read by Catholic clergy and laypeople.

The statement was initiated by New Ways Ministry, a Mount Rainier, Md., based Catholic group that advocates for equality for LGBTQ people within the church and society at large.

“As Catholic theologians, scholars, church leaders, writers, and ministers, we affirm that Catholic teaching presents a positive case for ending discrimination against LGBTQ people,” the statement says. “We affirm the Second Vatican Council’s demand that ‘any kind of social or cultural discrimination…must be curbed and eradicated,’” it says.

“We affirm that Catholic teaching should not be used to further oppress LGBTQ people by denying rights rooted in their inherent human dignity and in the church’s call for social equality,” the statement adds.

The statement notes that its signers recognize that a “great debate” is currently taking place within the Catholic Church about whether same-gender relationships and transgender identities should be condoned or supported.

“That is a vital discussion for the future of Catholicism, and one to which we are whole-heartedly committed,” the statement continues. “What we are saying in this statement, however, is relatively independent of that debate, and the endorsers of this statement may hold varied, and even opposing, opinions on sexual and gender matters,” it says.

Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministries executive director, said his organization and the signers of the statement feel the issue of nondiscrimination for LGBTQ people can and should be supported by Catholic leaders and the church itself even if some are not yet ready to support same-sex marriage and sexual and gender identity matters.

“LGBTQ non-discrimination is being debated at all levels in our society, and the Catholic perspective on this is often misrepresented, even by some church leaders,” DeBernardo said. “Catholics who have studied and reflected deeply on this topic agree that non-discrimination is the most authentic Catholic position,” he said. 

DeBernardo said those who helped draft the statement decided it would be best to limit it to a theological appeal and argument for LGBTQ equality and non-discrimination and not to call for passage of specific legislation such as the Equality Act, the national LGBTQ civil rights bill pending in the U.S. Congress.

The Equality Act calls for amending existing federal civil rights laws to add nondiscrimination language protecting LGBTQ people in areas such as employment, housing, and public accommodations. The U.S. House approved the legislation, but the Senate has yet to act on it.

“We wanted this to be a theological statement, not a political statement,” DeBernardo said.

He said organizers of the project to prepare the statement plan to send it, among other places, to the Vatican in Rome and to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has expressed opposition to the Equality Act.

Among the key signers of the statement were 242 administrators, faculty, and staff from Sacred Heart University, a Catholic college in Bridgeport, Conn. New Ways Ministries says the statement was circulated by the school’s administration and eight of its top leaders, including President John Petillo, are among the signers.

Some of the prominent writers who signed the statement include Sister Helen Prejean, author of “Dead Man Walking;” Richard Rodriquez, author of “Hunger of Memory;” Gary Wills, author of “Lincoln at Gettysburg;” and Gregory Maguire, author of “Wicked.”

The full text of the statement and its list of signatories can be accessed at the New Ways Ministry website.

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Activists reflect on Black Trans Lives Matter movement resurgence

Blade speaks with Alex Santiago, Jasmyne Cannick



An I Am Human Foundation billboard along Atlanta's Downtown Connector expressway on Feb. 22, 2021. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The world came to a standstill last year as a video surfaced online that showed then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd. The video went viral and sparked numerous protests against racism and police brutality in the U.S. and around the world as many people felt it a potent time to relay their frustrations with and to their governments.

For the LGBTQ community, these protests brought to light the need for human rights for transgender individuals as the murders of people like Tony McDade in Florida and Nina Pop in Missouri reawakened the flame within the Black Trans Lives Matter movement.

A tribute to Tony McDade in downtown Asheville, N.C., in June 2020. McDade was a Black transgender man who was shot and killed by a white police officer in Tallahassee, Fla., on May 27, 2020. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The Washington Blade more than a year later spoke with Alex Santiago, executive director of the I Am Human Foundation in Atlanta, and Jasmyne Cannick, a Democratic political strategist and journalist in Los Angeles, to reflect on last year’s Black Trans Lives Matter movement, how far it has come, and what’s in store for the future. 

Uplifting voices often silenced

Participating in the Black Lives Matter protests was an easy decision for Santiago. He is a member of the Legendary House of Garcon, a ballroom house headquartered in D.C. 

Although the house is composed mostly of LGBTQ members, Santiago still felt the need to center trans voices and experiences by visually representing them during Black Lives Matter marches. 

“[I decided that] when I go I’m going to have signs that say ‘Black Trans Lives Matter.’ After talking to a couple of the people in the house, they said it was a great idea. So, they got these t-shirts made that incorporated the trans colors [baby blue, baby pink and white],” says Santiago.

Out of the 250 people in the Legendary House of Garcon, 175 showed up to D.C. from other states to march in solidarity with Black trans people. Santiago says that from what he was told, his was the largest group of activists representing Black trans lives at protests. 

“At first I thought people were going to look at us crazy, like, ‘Why are you separating yourselves or being exclusive?’. But, we got a great response from the general population that was there that day. It was a good day,” says Santiago.

Cannick, who was in Los Angeles during the protests, lent her efforts to platforming pertinent issues. She identifies herself as an ally and a “friend” to the LGBTQ community. 

“I’m active in the LA community and everybody knows me. So, whenever something happens, someone is hurt, someone is killed or someone needs to get the word out about something that’s going on particularly as it relates to the trans community, I’m always asked to get involved, and I do,” says Cannick. 

Over the past year, she reported on multiple LGBTQ issues including the trial of Ed Buck, a Democratic political fundraiser who was convicted in the deaths of two gay Black men who he injected with methamphetamine in exchange for sex.

What happened to the BTLM movement and what needs to change?

The nature of many social movements is that as the intense emotion surrounding them fades, people’s fervor for change wanes as well. This is especially true with allies who are not directly linked to the cause.

“Fatigue and frustration at the relatively slow pace of change to a growing backlash on the right against efforts to call out systemic racism and white privilege — has led to a decline in white support for the Black Lives Matter movement since last spring, when white support for social justice was at its peak,” US News reports about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Cannick believes this is the same for the Black Trans Lives Matter movement. She says Americans allow the media to dictate how it behaves and responds to issues. Thus, when stories “fall out of our media cycles … they fall out of our memories.”

“I think that’s not going to change, and that’s a psychological thing, until we learn how to not let the media necessarily dictate our issues,” says Cannick. 

She suggests that individuals remain plugged into their communities by “doing anything to make sure they keep up with an issue” including following the “right people” on social media and setting up Google alerts for any breaking news. 

Jasmyne Cannick (Photo courtesy of Jasmyne Cannick)

Santiago also echoes Cannick’s sentiments. 

“We wait until something happens before we do something. And, I don’t want to be retroactive; I want to be proactive. I want people to see me when things are going well [and when they’re not going well],” says Santiago. 

Upon returning to his home in Atlanta after the D.C. protests, Santiago contacted a billboard installation company and paid for a billboard labelled, “Black Trans Lives Matter” to be displayed on University Avenue near downtown Atlanta. He says that the billboards got attention and helped to spread much-needed awareness. Following this success, he is now in the process of installing a new billboard labelled, “Black, Trans and Visible. My life Matters.”

“Unless you’re in people’s faces or something drastic happens, people forget. Unless you’re living it, people forget,” says Santiago.

As time progresses, both Santiago and Cannick nest hope for the Black Trans Lives Matter movement. However, this hope can only persist when crucial steps are taken to ensure Black trans individuals around the country are protected, most importantly through legislation.

The New York Times reports there are close to 1,000 elected LGBTQ officials in the U.S., with at least one in each state except Mississippi. 

“We need to have more legislation. We need more voices in power like the council Biden has right now,” says Santiago. 

“You know that [Biden] has a lot of trans people and Black trans people [involved], and a part of that’s a positive step in the right direction, but we need that times 10,” says Santiago.

He believes that political representation should extend to local governance where ordinary Black trans individuals can be trained to assume leadership roles. 

Cannick’s focus is on the Black community. 

“[Trans women] are usually murdered by Black men. If we ever expect that to change, we need to start talking about that,” says Cannick.

She’s open to having conversations that put people, including her as a cis-identifying woman, in uncomfortable and awkward spaces. 

She hosts a podcast titled “Str8 No Chaser” and recently aired an episode, “Why Are Black Men Killing Trans Women,” where she discussed with three Black trans women about the gender and sexuality dynamics within the Black community and their perils. 

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