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Bachmann first to sign Vander Plaats’ social pledge
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann became the first 2012 Republican presidential candidate to sign a pledge by a state-based religious conservative organization, The Family Leader. The pledge was unveiled Thursday by Bob Vander Plaats, chief executive of the organization, as being the only way candidates could earn his or the organization’s endorsement.
The 14-point pledge (PDF) asks candidates to ban same-sex marriage, protect women and children from pornography and reject Islamic law. Signers also must promise to affirm that same-sex marriage is akin to polygamy, and that having many children is good for America. The vow insinuates that homosexuality is a choice, and that being gay or lesbian is a public health risk.
The latter — that homosexuality is a risk to public health — is a charge previously and currently carried by the Iowa Family Policy Center, an “educational” organization under the umbrella of The Family Leader, through a series of marriage seminars. In fact, Bachmann’s agreement to this particular line item in the pledge appears to place her in opposition with her state campaign leader, Iowa Sen. Kent Sorenson, who stated previously that he believed it “absurd” to claim that homosexuality is a public health threat like second-hand smoke, which is the focus of the IFPC marriage seminar series.
The Family Leader and Vander Plaats have been tapped by a handful of out-of-state pundits and media members as one of the 10 most influential and powerful in the lead-up to the 2012 caucuses.
“The Marriage Vow” contains 14 line-items and several pages of footnotes. It’s made clear that any presidential candidate signing must “support human protection of women and the innocent fruit of conjugal intimacy” and protect them from “seduction into promiscuity and all forms of pornography.” Signing candidates are also making clear their opposition to same-sex marriage while pledging to work toward making it illegal in states where it has been approved. Candidates must work to protect military personnel from “commingling among attracteds” in showers and barracks in a veiled reference to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
And, toward the end of the long list of religious prohibitions, the pledge demands candidates vow to oppose Sharia law because it is a “form of totalitarian control.”
Bringing it all home, footnote eight emphatically states that no scientific evidence exists to show that homosexuality is not changeable.
Bachmann quickly signed the pledge on Thursday evening shortly after it was unveiled. Alice Stewart, a Bachmann aide, said the Minnesota Congresswoman had no qualms about signing: “She has been married for over 30 years and has a strong marriage and faith.”
The campaign for former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has indicated it is reviewing the document and not yet come to a decision, echoing the talking points of most campaigns as the positives and negatives associated with the document are weighed. While the line items may provide candidates a small advantage in Iowa due to the state’s roughly 60 percent social conservative GOP base, it’s unlikely that the pledge will pull approval from more fiscally-minded tea party activists or independent voters.
The Family Leader’s pledge announcement came two hours after officials at the Republican Party of Iowa assured reporters on a conference call that competition for the 2012 Iowa caucuses remains fierce.
“For those of you who have been on the ground and have had an opportunity to talk with Iowa voters, you can sense that the ground has shifted dramatically over the last few years and the concern by voters in Iowa mirror those [of voters] from all across America,” said RPI Chairman Matt Strawn, in connection with a national messaging roll-out by Republicans focusing on the economy.
“And, as we head into this election, it will be about the economy, the economy, the economy and how the President has this country heading into decline, and how Americans and Iowans need a change in direction.”
(Reporter Lynda Waddington contributed to this report.)