Monday, August 15, 2011

Two More Pledges You Should Know About

You may remember the controversy surrounding "The Marriage Vow: A Declaration of Dependence Upon Marriage and Family", a pledge created by the Family Leader and signed by several right-wing presidential candidates. Other right-wing organizations have also penned pledges for like-minded candidates to sign, so I'd like to introduce readers to two prominent pledges.

First, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a well-known anti-LGBT organization, has crafted a pledge against same-sex marriage for presidential candidates to sign. According to the NOM website, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum have signed the pledge, with NOM's Maggie Gallagher lauding them as "champions."

By signing the pledge, candidates vow to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and support a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Furthermore, signatories pledge to appoint like-minded judges and attorney generals who are committed to the "original meaning" of the Constitution. Candidates who sign the pledge also vow to put forward legislation granting residents of Washington D.C. the right to vote on marriage (although it does not specify what to do if D.C. voters vote in favor of same-sex marriage rights). Finally, and most chillingly, signatories pledge to establish a "presidential commission on religious liberty." This commission would be responsible for investigating alleged harassment or threats against Americans who organize, speak, propose "protections" or vote for marriage (!?).

Is this proposed presidential commission indicative of a persecution complex, or a means to silence criticism of anti-LGBT activism? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm not familiar with any incidents involving harassment or threats against anti-LGBT organizers (although harassment and violence against LGBT people themselves abounds). The creation of a "religious liberty" commission suggests that resistance to same-sex marriage would be framed as religious expression. It also suggests that anti-LGBT attitudes and religion are intertwined for the authors of the pledge, in that "protection" of marriage is framed as a religious issue.

In short, the NOM pledge encourages a legislative strategy to combat same-sex marriage, in that it asks signatories to support DOMA, a constitutional amendment, and a presidential commission inimical to same-sex marriage. To boot, its authors try to legitimize their views by framing opposition to same-sex marriage as a reflection of the Constitution's original meaning.

Second, the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List also encouraged candidates to sign an anti-abortion pledge. According to their website, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum have all signed the Pro-Life Citizens' Pledge pledge, although Mitt Romney's reluctance has caused them consternation. Gary Johnson, John Huntsman, and Herman Cain have also refrained from signing the pledge.

Like the NOM pledge, the Susan B. Anthony List pledge lays out a legislative strategy for its anti-abortion agenda. Signatories of the Susan B. Anthony List pledge vow to promote legislation that permanently eliminates taxpayer funding for abortion, both domestically and internationally. Those who sign also vow to defund Planned Parenthood and all other bodies that fund or perform abortions. Additionally, candidates who sign pledge to support a piece of anti-abortion legislation called the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act."

Similar to the NOM pledge, the Susan B. Anthony List pledge calls on signatories to choose only anti-abortion nominees for executive branch and cabinet positions. Finally, signatories vow to only nominate Supreme Court and federal judges who apply the "original meaning" of the Constitution instead of "legislating from the bench."

Both the NOM pledge and the Susan B. Anthony List pledge serve to pin down where presidential candidates stand on same-sex marriage and abortion, respectively. However, the pledges do more than signal agreement on hot issues; rather, they signal agreement with a distinct legislative strategy for undermining same-sex marriage and reproductive rights. In this, the two pledges let us know what kinds of nominees candidates will potentially nominate if they win the presidency in 2012, as well as what legislation they will potentially support. Supporters of LGBT and reproductive rights, take note.

To read a copy of the NOM pledge, click here.

To read the Susan B. Anthony List Pro-Life Citizens' Pledge, click here.

To read additional news and commentary, visit the following links.

ACLU Blog of Rights: NOM Marriage Pledge: A Discriminatory, Tone-Deaf Pitfall

Raw Story: Four Republican presidential candidates sign NOM marriage pledge

Talking Points Memo: Dirt Bike Fight: Santorum Ad Mocks Huntsman Over Anti-Abortion Pledge

American Independent: Bachmann, Pawlenty sign Susan B. Anthony List anti-abortion pledge


  1. That special committee on the NOM pledge is a bit scary, and skirts the edge of congress making a law establishing a religion, unless they put a Muslim, a Hindu, and a Buddhist on staff.

    The rest of the pledge isn't really that shocking, and pretty much what I would expect those candidates to do anyway.

    The SBA List pledge... The original meaning of the constitution... like how our government was designed with a system of checks and balances so that judges could repudiate bad laws, thereby "legislating" from the bench? Perhaps they should reconsider the original original meaning. :-)

  2. Wise Fool -- I agree. The proposed presidential committee is the most chilling part of the document, in my opinion.

  3. As Tim Egan of the NYT referred to the GOP candidates a few days ago, they are "the Crazy 8 Caucus." That was before Perry jumped in and Pawlenty dropped out. The name still applies, even more so.

    I have to believe there are enough good and intelligent people in this country that are being turned off by this constant and alarming manifestation of the alienating Right Wing extremism. Almost everyone knows and loves someone who is gay and they can do basic budgetary math (an ability that has heretofore escaped the GOP; consider Romney who just days ago promised Iowan voters he would not raise taxes OR touch their Social Security and Medicare. While asserting that corporations are people. Um.).

    I'm hearing rumors that Republicans are leaving the party in record numbers. Maybe the RR is one of the best things that's happened to this country? ... Here's hoping. Tentatively.

  4. Cognitive Dissenter -- Such people do exist in healthy numbers, but then again, so do fundamentalists who eat this stuff up. I can only hope that Religious Right rhetoric is becoming so outrageous that it's alienating people in droves ... but we'll know for sure in November 2012 if that's the case.

  5. It's amazing how these people are always going on about The Constitution when they're the ones who are trying to usurp it.

  6. Buffy -- It sure seems that way.


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