The antigay National Organization for Marriage is once again asking Republican presidential aspirants to support a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples, plus take other steps aimed at blocking marriage equality.
“Republicans need to not just give lip service to marriage,” NOM president Brian Brown told CNN Thursday. “By signing the pledge they are committing to concrete steps to protect marriage.”
Brown said the pledge would be sent this week to all declared Republican candidates, with a request that they return it within two weeks, and will be sent to others as they publicly announce their intention to seek the nomination. NOM circulated a similar pledge during the last presidential election cycle, and most GOP candidates signed it, including the eventual nominee, Mitt Romney.
The new pledge asks that candidates support a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman; oppose and work to overturn any Supreme Court decision for marriage equality; review and reverse Obama administration policies that provide federal government recognition to same-sex marriages; support the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill introduced in Congress this week that would allow businesses and individuals with religious objections to marriage equality to discriminate against same-sex couples without repercussions; and direct the Department of Justice to investigate cases of people being “harassed or threatened” for opposing marriage equality.
In reality, these actions would be difficult to carry out. Overturning Supreme Court decisions is no easy feat, and neither is amending the U.S. Constitution. “License to discriminate” legislation has proved unpopular. And most stories of harassment for opposing marriage equality have turned out to be apocryphal. But even with a majority of Americans supporting marriage equality and the high court likely to issue a favorable ruling, NOM is holding fast to its opposition and wants the Republican Party to do so as well.
“Our hope is that as many candidates as possible sign, but at the end of the day what we want is a champion for marriage, someone who will stand up and do what is necessary to protect it,” Brown told CNN. “So whether we end up having four candidates or 15, we are going to support he candidates that stand up and sign the pledge.”
Iowa-based Family Leader, which also asked GOP presidential candidates to sign an anti–marriage equality pledge in 2012, announced last month that it had no plans to do so in this election campaign, although it isn’t entirely abandoning the possibility. The pledge turned out to be “a distraction,” Family Leader CEO Bob Vander Plaats told The Des Moines Register in May, and the group instead will hold meetings with candidates leading up to the 2016 presidential caucus in the state.
In the last election cycle, several candidates signed the Family Leader pledge, which included numerous other points besides opposition to marriage equality, such as opposition to abortion and Islamic law, support of “robust childbearing and reproduction,” and an oath of marital fidelity. Romney, however, refused to sign the pledge, which one of his aides called “undignified and inappropriate for a presidential campaign.”