After much delay, the weakened and tainted National Organization for Marriage recently released the 2016 "Marriage Pledge" that it hopes all Republicans running for president will sign. NOM's pledge reads like a fascist manifesto. Among its crazy and impractical demands of GOP candidates this time around are:
- Support overturning the Supreme Court marriage equality ruling by passing a constitutional amendment.
- Commit to appoint Supreme Court justices and an attorney general who oppose marriage eqaulity.
- Undo all of President Obama's executive orders and directives on LGBT equality.
- Same-sex marriage would not be allowed to be discussed in public schools.
- Support a so-called First Amendment Defense Act to protect NOM and other hate groups.
- Order the Justice Department to investigate the "harassment" of Americans who oppose marriage equality.
Well, I have no idea how even one of the ever-growing field of GOP candidates for president could sign such an onerous and binding pledge. I'm sure there will be a couple, but even antigay stalwarts like Mike Huckabee, who said he wasn't going to sign any pledges from third-party groups, would have a problem with one or more of NOM's pledge points.
After June 26's Supreme Court puling allowing same-sex marriage in all 50 states, some Republican candidates accepted the ruling and said that the new law should be enforced and that we should move on.
On Meet the Press ultraconservative U. S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of the recently announced GOP candidates, said of NOM's number 1 priority, "No, I would not engage in the constitutional amendment process as a party going into 2016. Accept the court's ruling." He added that the party platform should be changed to reflect that position. Will his fellow candidates follow his lead?
Four years ago I ran for president as the very first openly gay candidate from a major political party in history. At that time a more viable NOM circulated its 2012 Marriage Pledge. Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Tim Pawlenty all rushed to sign it. Some, like Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, and Ron Paul, deferred.
NOM and a few of its religious right allies unleashed a flurry of attack ads and press releases against some of the candidates who refused to sign the pledge. After a few months Newt caved and signed, but Ron Paul did not, and NOM went after him with a vengeance, spending $1 million in attack ads in Iowa alone.
Now four years later, NOM is running on life support. Its fundraising has dried up. It's currently under investigation in five states. The Federal Election Commission has been conducting a two-year investigation of leader Brian Brown and his organization on "pay to play" charges from the 2012 Iowa Caucus, where it appears that NOM funneled up to $1 million to secure a key endorsement for Rick Santorum in Iowa.
So what Republican candidate for president in his or her right mind would feel any need to sign NOM's ridiculous Marriage Pledge? Any association with NOM now would cause far more harm to their campaigns than good.
The Republican Party and the candidates running for its nomination in 2016 should follow in Ronald Reagan's footsteps and work to expand the GOP. Help make the Republican Party a big-tent party again that will attract younger voters, minorities, and maybe even lots more LGBT Republicans if it opens it heart and mind to the changing American political landscape.
So my advice to the GOP field when asked to sign NOM's Hate Pledge: Just say no.
FRED KARGER is an LGBT activist, political consultant, pundit, writer, and author. He ran for president of the United States in 2012 as the first openly gay candidate to do so from either major political party.