By Lucas Grindley
Originally published on Advocate.com July 13 2011 8:30 AM ET
Mitt Romney won't sign an antigay pledge proposed by an Iowa religious right group because it's "undignified and inappropriate," according to the Associated Press.
Of course, that hasn't stopped Rep. Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, who both agreed to The Family Leader's pledge almost immediately. By signing, they've promised to back a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and have affirmed their belief that gay men are a public health risk, that gay parents are inferior to straight parents, and that homosexuality is a choice.
Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Romney, told the Associated Press that the former Massachusetts governor would not sign "The Marriage Vow" even though he "strongly supports traditional marriage." The language "contained references and provisions that were undignified and inappropriate for a presidential campaign," said Saul.
Romney joins former Utah governor Jon Huntsman who also won't sign, claiming to have a blanket policy against joining pledges.
The rest of the GOP presidential field has until Aug. 1 to make a decision. Newt Gingrich has said, for example, that his campaign is still examining the document. Gingrich's next move is being closely scrutinized because the pledge requires candidates to promise faithfulness to their spouses, and he's on his third marriage — to a woman he once had an affair with.
Even Santorum was leery about whether that part of the pledge was appropriate.
"When I first read it, I was taken aback," Santorum told CNN this weekend. But he signed anyway. "If you can't be faithful to the people you are closest to then how can we count on you to be faithful to those of us you represent?"
The Family Leader is led by Bob Vander Plaats, who successfully campaigned for the ouster of three Supreme Court justices that legalized gay marriage in Iowa. His group's endorsement is contingent on whether candidates sign the pledge.
"We're not trying to beat up anybody for past mistakes because we're a Christian organization — we fully understand the need for forgiveness and redemption," said Vander Plaats in an interview with Salon where he defended the pledge's intrusion on candidates' personal lives. "We've all made mistakes in the past. This is about moving forward."
Regardless of their choices on signing the pledge, Romney and Gingrich support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage while Huntsman does not. One candidate has taken up loud opposition to the pledge — former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson. Although he barely shows up in polls, Johnson has a warning for his party on what it takes to get elected.
"If candidates who sign this pledge somehow think they are scoring some points with some core constituency of the Republican Party, they are doing so at the peril of writing off the vast majority of Americans who want no part of this ‘pledge’ and its offensive language," said Johnson. "The Republican Party cannot afford to have a presidential candidate who condones intolerance, bigotry and the denial of liberty to the citizens of this country. If we nominate such a candidate, we will never capture the White House in 2012."