Though it was presidential candidate Mitt Romney who hardened his stance opposing same-sex marriage during Thursday night's GOP presidential debate in Sioux City, Iowa, it was his strongest rival, Newt Gingrich, who demonstrated his commitment to excluding same-sex couples from marriage by signing the National Organization for Marriage's "Marriage Pledge" hours before the debate.
On Thursday morning, Gingrich penned NOM's "Marriage Pledge," promising to support a federal marriage amendment, which would prohibit gay and lesbian American couples from marrying; appoint an attorney general and Supreme Court justices who are outwardly opposed to same-sex marriage; appoint a commission that investigates NOM's opponents; and attempt to nullify same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia.
Over the summer, Romney and fellow candidates Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry signed the pledge. Ron Paul and Huntsman and declined, but NOM President Brian Brown is only going after Paul.
Earlier this week, Gingrich sent a statement of support for the perhaps even more controversial "Marriage Vow" created by Iowa's Family Leader, an affiliate of Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. He did not sign the 14-point pledge, which at one point including the statement:
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.
This summer, Bachmann and Santorum signed the Family Leader's vow while it still included this point about slavery; Perry signed it after the passage was removed due to public outrage.
Though Gingrich did not put his signature to this particular pledge, he did promise that, as president:
I will vigorously enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, which was enacted under my leadership as Speaker of the House, and ensure compliance with its provisions, especially in the military. I will also aggressively defend the constitutionality of DOMA in federal and state courts. I will support sending a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the states for ratification. I will also oppose any judicial, bureaucratic, or legislative effort to define marriage in any manner other than as between one man and one woman. I will support all efforts to reform promptly any uneconomic or anti-marriage aspects of welfare and tax policy. I also pledge to uphold the institution of marriage through personal fidelity to my spouse and respect for the marital bonds of others.
Watch Ron Paul explain why he does not support a Federal Marriage Amendment at the Family Leader's Thanksgiving Forum:
The Human Rights Campaign has pointed out the irony of the National Organization for Marriage praising Gingrich as a "marriage champion," considering the former speaker of the House has been married three times, and it is public knowledge that he has cheated on previous spouses.
“Newt Gingrich’s signature to the NOM Marriage Pledge is just the latest indicator of how beholden the GOP presidential candidates are to anti-gay groups," said HRC President Joe Solmonese in a press release. "The tenets of the NOM pledge are rooted in hatred against LGBT Americans – by signing it, Gingrich and his fellow candidates are distancing themselves from mainstream opinion and taking an astonishingly extremist stance."
Watch Romney defend his same-sex marriage position during Thursday's debate:
Photo: Newt Gingrich (Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore)