August 26, 2011 at 6:15 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Perry signs anti-gay marriage pledge

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry (Photo credit Sandy Wassenmiller)

The newest entry in the field of Republican presidential hopefuls — and current front-runner in the GOP field — has signed his name to an anti-gay pledge to oppose same-sex marriage if elected to the White House.

On Friday, the National Organization for Marriage announced Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who earlier this month officially declared his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, had penned his name to a document committing himself to various initiatives in opposition to same-sex marriage.

In a statement, Brian Brown, NOM’s president, praised Perry and called the thrice-elected Texas governor a “marriage champion” for signing the pledge.

“By doing so, Perry makes crystal clear that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, gay marriage is going to be a bigger issue in 2012 than it was in 2008, because the difference between the GOP nominee and President Obama is going to be large and clear,” Brown said. “We look forward to demonstrating that being for marriage is a winning position for a presidential candidate.”

The Perry campaign didn’t immediately respond to the Washington Blade’s request to comment on the candidate’s signing of the pledge.

Other Republican presidential candidates signed the pledge prior to Perry’s entry into the race: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.). NOM asserted that former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty had also agreed to sign his name to the pledge, but he has since exited the race.

By signing the document, Perry commits upon election as president to undertake several initiatives against same-sex marriage:

* supporting congressional passage and sending to the states a U.S. constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage throughout the country;

* defending in court the Defense of Marriage of Act, a 1996 law that prohibit federal recognition of same-sex marriage;

* appointing judges and a U.S. attorney general who “will respect the original meaning” of the U.S. Constitution;

* supporting legislation allowing D.C. residents to vote on whether or not to abrogate the district’s same-sex marriage law;

* and appointing a presidential commission to “investigate harassment of traditional marriage supporters.”

Michael Cole-Schwartz, spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, said Perry’s signature on the anti-gay pledge demonstrates his presidency would be bad news for LGBT Americans.

“Rick Perry’s alignment with NOM and their McCarthy-esque pledge is yet further evidence that a President Perry would be terrible for LGBT equality,” Cole-Schwartz said.

Perry has long been opponent of same-sex marriage. In 2005, he helped pass a state constitutional amendment in Texas banning gay nuptials and civil unions. This year, after initially saying he was “fine” with New York legalizing same-sex marriage, Perry later reiterated support for a Federal Marriage Amendment, which would rescind the Empire State’s marriage law and prohibit same-sex marriage throughout the country.

Since officially entering the race, Perry has become leader in the polls among the Republican presidential candidates. Several polls have shown him with double-digit leads.

According to a Gallup poll published on Wednesday, Perry is 11 points ahead of other prospective Republican presidential candidates. Twenty-nine percent of responders said they’re most likely to support Perry, with Romney next, at 17 percent.

Similarly, according to data published Wednesday from Public Policy Polling, Perry has a full-third of responders’ support among Republican voters. Romney trailed behind with 13 points and Bachmann had 16 percent.

Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling, said in a statement Perry’s lead could be temporary because he’s just entered the race, but added the significant lead he has over other candidates may indicate he’ll stay on top longer.

“There have been a lot of flavors of the month in the Republican Presidential race and it’s possible that Rick Perry is just another of those,” Debnam said. “But his support right now is stronger than Michele Bachmann or Herman Cain or Donald Trump or Mike Huckabee’s ever was which suggests he should have more staying power.”

Sean Theriault, who’s gay and a political scientist at University of Texas, Austin, said LGBT people should be “fearful” of Perry’s lead in the polls because the Texas governor on marriage is “at least two steps to the right on this issue than [former President] George W. Bush.”

“If LGBT folks are disappointed in [President] Obama’s lack of progress on LGBT issues, they just don’t understand how politics works,” Theriault said. “To have a friend, who isn’t willing to go all the way to marriage, yet, in the White House is much, much, much better than having an opponent. I’m not certain that Perry would prioritize our issues as much as a President Bachmann, but I think the difference between them on the issues would be marginal at best.”

LGBT people have expressed disappointment with Obama for not being in favor of same-sex marriage — although he once voiced support for gay nuptials in 1996 questionnaire response and suggested his views on marriage could “evolve.” Obama has opposed a Federal Marriage Amendment and, starting this year, has litigated with LGBT advocates against DOMA in court.

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

  • Does this man really think he is going to win? He is Bushes Clone.

  • I heard that he has dabbled in Man to Man fun before… Is this true?

  • the guys done-the american people will never elect someone beholden to a fringe rightwing group-thank god! 4 more years of Obama

    • I don’t know, Norm. Mind, you, I’m far from a political scientist, but if the economy is still a shambles come 11/2012, I could see the American people takig their frustration out on Obama (even it this mess isn’t totally his fault), or staying home altogether, and putting a Republican candidate in office. Of course, I hope Obama is re-elected, but I don’t know… .

  • You had better believe Perry will be the next President of the United States. Perry will do and say anything, literally… even if contradictory to his recent remarks and actions… just to secure the nomination of the Republican Party. Believe me, I do not trust Perry as Perry has stomped on the U.S. Constitution… and I will that space blank if Perry is the nominee.
    Perry signed the Dream Act giving illegals preferential in-state college tuition fees. Perry also criticized Arizona’s tough illegal immigration laws. However, like the old saying… white man speak with forked tongue… Perry now simply claims he has a tougher stance on immigration. No…Perry is and will always be weak on illegals immigration.
    Perry said recently he was ok with the New York law permitting gay marriage. Well since that doesn’t settle well with Christians, Perry now suddenly signed a pledge, that as President, he would support a Constitutional Amendment prohibiting gay marriage by the States. Perry is saying and doing literally anything to garner support from Christians. Perry is a politician just like Bush. Remember GH Bush’s infamous’ quote… ‘Read my lips’. Perry is a slick politician… Slick Rick! You and I were fooled by GW Bush and Bush’s big government spending and bailouts. Let’s not be conned again.
    Perry wants to look like a Christian. A Christian would not have signed a bill into law stripping voters in some TX counties that are without a groundwater conservation district of their right to VOTE against being forcibly placed into a neighboring water district. Perry did this to the people as he signed SB313 into law on June 17, 2011. It appears Perry does not believe in the saying… DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU.
    The DUE PROCESS Clause of the 14th Amendment guarantees the people that prior to their life, liberty, or property being taken from them, the people will get DUE PROCESS. (Voting has been shown as a liberty protected under the 14th Amendment.) Yet, the people of Texas were not afforded any form of Due Process prior to Perry signing SB313 into law and stripping voters of the right to vote in some Tx Counties. Perry has shredded the Constitution of the U.S. and his signed pledges are meaningless.
    Perry speaks of government overreach… yet Perry issued his own executive order mandating the questionable Gardasil vaccine to all sixth grade girls. Perry is the epitome of government overreach!
    Pass this along as people deserve the truth… before voting.
    If the Republicans regain control of the Senate and take even more seats in the House… it will be a big win. If the Republicans also win the Presidency, all bets are off. The system of checks and balances will be compromised if the Republicans control the White House and Congress as was the case of GW Bush in his first term. The Republican controlled White House and Congress spent money like drunken sailors! Let’s not go there again.
    Who am I. I received an award by AFP (Americans For Prosperity) in Austin for my conservative actions against more government debt.

  • Norm, you write

    “the american people will never elect someone beholden to a fringe rightwing group-thank god!”

    Really? Did you forget George W. Bush? Oh never mind. It’s the american public we’re talking about. It has no memory.

  • I really dont understand republicans, they are supposed to be for LESS government but seem to be for MORE government in almost every way except for helping the poor! Yet they get the poor to vote for them because they usually are more conservative and will vote solely on issues like this which dont effect them in the slightest bit, but i would think less government would mean less intrusion into private lives, and this amendment affects the individual… so unfortunate

  • Although I’m voting for ron paul because he believes in personal liberty, which to myself is beyond important! thank you so much!

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