Controversy Grows Around 2 Anti-Gay Pols’ Signing of ’Marriage’ Vow Citing ’Slavery’
Michele Bachmann was the first contender for the GOP 2012 presidential nomination to sign on to a 14-point campaign agenda created by a right-wing religious group in Iowa.
Bachmann and Rick Santorum, who also signed the pledge, are now receiving criticism for having signed the document, which claims that African American children born into slavery were better off than African-American children were today.
The 14-point pledge, titled "The Marriage Vow -- A Declaration of Dependence Upon Marriage and Family," was created by Iowa religious group THE FAMiLY LEADER. The head of the group, Bob Vander Plaats, a 48-year-old bachelor, has led anti-gay actions before. Vander Plaats led the successful campaign last year to see several Iowa State Supreme Court justices replaced when they came up for retention votes.
Vander Plaats targeted the justices because of the court’s unanimous finding that a state law barring marriage equality conflicted with the state’s constitution. That finding opened the door to same-sex marriage in Iowa, the first heartland state to permit matrimonial parity for gays and lesbians.
"Vander Plaats has sworn not to endorse anyone who doesn’t sign his pledge, titled ’The Marriage Vow: A Declaration of Dependence upon Marriage and the Family,’ " a July 8 Daily Beast Article posted at MSNBC.com reported.
The religious group has given candidates a deadline of Aug. 1 to sign on.
The pledge attacks sexual minorities on several fronts and hails large families. Bachmann, who is well known for her anti-gay stance, unhesitatingly signed the document the same day it debuted, on July 7. A second anti-gay politician, Rick Santorum, also signed the pledge.
The 14-point pledge suggests that it should be the government’s job to supervise what people see, hear, and read, and takes aim at the Muslim faith.
As a presidential hopeful, Bachmann has said both that she would support a federal Constitutional amendment to bar marriage equality for gay and lesbian American families, and that she would be inclined to leave issues such as marriage up to each state to decide for itself.
The Daily Beast article called the pledge "wacky," and noted that the pledge signed by Bachmann "commits her to fighting not only gay marriage, abortion, and ’quickie divorce,’ but also ’all forms of pornography.’
"The pledge goes on to imply that African-American families were in some ways better off under slavery than they are today, and argues that homosexuality can be cured," the Daily Beast article noted.
Though the mainstream press took little note of the anti-gay content of the document, its racial overtones were quickly identified, making headlines even overseas. A July 10 article in British newspaper the Guardian suggested that Bachmann might make a "life lesson" out of the controversy: "Read the Small Print in [the Word] ’Slavery’ Appears," advised the article’s headline.
"At a cursory glance, it seemed a no-brainer," the Guardian reported, "to pledge herself to the sanctity of marriage and family. She is openly opposed to gay marriages, and has five children as well as having fostered 23 others. Marriage, family -- no problem!
"But then the details of the pledge were picked up on the blogosphere, notably a clause in it referring to slavery. As Politico pointed out, the preamble of the pledge contains this phrase:
" ’Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.’ "
The Politico article was posted on July 9.
"As a general matter of course, it is not a good idea for American politicians to stray into the subject of slavery unless they’ve done a great deal of homework and are extremely confident about what they are saying," the Guardian article noted. "And as intelligent commentary on slavery goes, the preamble missed the target by miles."
The American news media also took note of the document’s racial content.
"An aide said she did not hesitate to sign," a June 8 Washington Post article said. "Maybe she didn’t hesitate because she didn’t read it. Signing this vow is tantamount to shoving someone else’s foot in your mouth.
"By signing, she agreed to ban pornography, called homosexuality a choice, and implied that slavery -- while not perfect -- at least guaranteed that children grew up in two-parent households," added the article.
Next: ’Family Values’ at Work