Bachmann signs socially conservative pledge on homosexuality, marriage

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is the first presidential candidate to sign a pledge written by a socially- conservative advocacy group in Iowa that, among other things, endorses the view that homosexuality is a choice rather than a biological trait.

The pledge, titled “The Marriage Vow: A Declaration of Dependence Upon Marriage and Family,” originated with a group led by Bob Vander Plaats, an unsuccessful GOP gubernatorial candidate and evangelical Christian leader in Iowa. The group, the Family Leader, is asking all the 2012 presidential hopefuls to sign it.

The pledge asks signatories to vow that they will be faithful to their spouses and to the U.S. Constitution. It condemns adultery, “quickie divorce,” infidelity, pornography, cohabitation and Islamic sharia law. It also suggests that more African-American children are born out of wedlock now than they were under slavery.

The two-page document also warns that the institution of marriage is “in great crisis,” citing as one reason the “anti-scientific bias which holds, in complete absence of empirical proof, that non-heterosexual inclinations are genetically determined, irresistible and akin to innate traits like race, gender and eye color.” It also suggests that homosexuality may have a negative impact on public health.

Since announcing her presidential candidacy last month, Bachmann has largely sidestepped questions about her views on homosexuality. While she has said she opposes same-sex marriage, she has demurred when asked if she believes homosexuality is a choice or poses a health hazard.

“I’m running for the presidency of the United States,” she said when asked recently. “I am not running to be anyone’s judge.”

Her decision to sign the pledge Thursday, however, suggests that her concerns about homosexuality do extend beyond simply opposing the right of same-sex couples to marry. She and her husband, Marcus Bachmann, made such views a centerpiece of their earlier careers, prompting the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign to launch a petition of its own Friday.

“We’re calling on all of the Republican presidential candidates to speak out against the Bachmanns’ dangerous views and activities before more damage is done,” the group’s Web site states.

The debate is likely to continue as Bachmann seeks to move past her history focusing on social issues and demonstrate her expertise on national security and the economy. On CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Friday morning, Bachmann said her campaign for the presidency would be about reviving the economy and not about gay issues.

Asked on Friday about Bachmann’s signing of the pledge, a spokeswoman reiterated that she was the first presidential hopeful to sign it.

Of the 2012 GOP presidential candidates, the only other one to have signed the pledge is Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.). A spokesman for Tim Pawlenty said the former Minnesota governor is reviewing it. A spokeswoman for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Staff writer Amy Gardner contributed to this report.

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Sandhya Somashekhar is the social change reporter for the Washington Post.
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