This morning, Iowa’s FAMiLY Leader unveiled “The Marriage Vow: A Declaration of Dependence upon MARRIAGE and FAMILY,” a 14 bullet pledge presidential candidates will have to sign to secure any “future endorsement” from the organization and its influential leader, Bob Vander Plaats. Throughout the early primary process, Vander Plaats — a three-time unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate who helped propel Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) to victory in the state in 2008 and ran a successful campaign to recall three justices who overturned Iowa’s anti same-sex marriage law — has sought to position himself as a gatekeeper to the conservative voters who participate in the Iowa caucuses. Leader has hosted a presidential forum with almost all of the GOP’s 2012 contenders and Plaats has traveled to Washington, DC to present himself as a national Tea Party leader.
Today’s pledge seeks to solidify the organization’s reputation as the state’s conservative moral authority, and it reiterates many of the group’s extreme social views and anti-gay rhetoric. If any candidate signs on to Leader’s vows, they will be agreeing to the following radical constructs:
— HOMOSEXUALITY IS A CHOICE: The preface to the pledge reads, “Social protections…have been evaporating as we have collectively ‘debased the currency’ of marriage…in complete absence of empirical proof, that non-heterosexual inclination are genetically determined, irresistible and akin to innate traits like race, gender and eye color; as well as anti-scientific bias which holds, against all empirical evidence, that homosexual behavior in particular, and sexual promiscuity in general, optimizes individual or public health.” Footnote 8 reiterates this notion.
— HOMOSEXUALITY IS LIKE POLYGAMY, ADULTERY, POLYANDRY: Vow 4 requires the candidate to pledge “Vigorous opposition to any redefinition of the Institution of Marriage…through statutory, bureaucratic, or court-imposed recognition of intimate unions which are bigamous, polygamous, polyandrous, same-sex.”
— HOMOSEXUALITY IS A PUBLIC HEALTH RISK: Footnote 4 claims that homosexuality causes shorter life expectancy and a higher probability of a long list of sexually transmitted diseases. The Leader has previously compared same-sex marriage to second-hand smoking.
— SEX IS BETTER AFTER MARRIAGE: Vow 5 requires the candidate to support the notion that “married people enjoy better health, better sex.”
— PORNOGRAPHY SHOULD BE BANNED: Vow 9 stipulates that the candidate 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…and other types of coercion or stolen innocence.”
— REJECT SHARIA ISLAM: Vow 11 requires the candidate to reject Sharia law.
Despite Vander Plaats’ best efforts to woo the GOP establishment, many of the Republicans who spoke at the FAMiLY Leader’s presidential forum have already dismissed its extremest anti-gay beliefs. Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann, have all told ThinkProgress that they do not believe that homosexuality is akin to second hand smoking. Next week, the group will host former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who — given his past admissions of infidelity — may not be able to commit to a pledge that requires “personal fidelity to my spouse” as its first vow.
Republicans have until Aug. 1 to sign the pledge.
After controversy erupted over its anti-porn pledge, The LEADER backed off it, offering a more narrow interpretation. Vander Plaats said he wasn’t calling for a nationwide ban.