Rick Perry has joined fellow Republican presidential contenders Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum in signing a controversial marriage pledge from Iowa’s FAMiLY LEADER. The social conservative organization is headed by failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats and has positioned itself as a gateway to Iowa’s Republican caucus goers. The pledge likens homosexuality to polygamy, adultery, or polyandry and asks candidates to vow that being gay is a choice that poses serious health risks like “shorter life expectancy.” An earlier draft also claimed that children were better off under slavery than they are under Obama.
Some Iowa Republicans have complained that the document is a distraction that has destroyed Vander Plaats’ credibility, and Mitt Romney has even characterized it as “undignified and inappropriate.” But Perry — who is polling in the single digits in the state — is now embracing the group and its controversial leader.
The Texas governor has previously compared homosexuality to alcoholism and condemned “the agenda of radical gay rights groups that want to throw their sexual activity into the face of society.” In 2010, Perry ran for re-election on a GOP platform explicitly supporting the criminalization of gay sex.
Progress Iowa responds: “This is just another desperate move from another desperate Republican candidate. Rick Perry, who already has a spotty record on equal rights, has now signed a document that has come to symbolize the extremist, out-of-touch views of Bob Vander Plaats and the Family Leader. The pledge originally stated that children of slavery are better off than children born today. And, it requires presidential candidates to swear their fidelity not to God – as they already did when they got married – but rather to Bob Vander Plaats. This pledge would surely be an albatross around his neck should he become the party’s nominee. However, because he signed this, I don’t think Americans have to worry about that.”