August 4, 2011 at 6:03 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
GOP presidential hopefuls sign anti-gay marriage pledge

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“The last thing Republicans need or want is another group pushing the same outdated social agenda under new branding,” Berle said.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

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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

  • Good, give them all the rope they want.

  • 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

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

  • 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?

    • 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.)

    • 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.

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

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

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

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

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

  • 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

  • “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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