Tim Pawlenty has announced that he won’t be joining Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum in signing the FAMiLY LEADER’s “marriage vow” pledge. “I prefer to choose my own words, especially seeking to show compassion to those who are in broken families through no fault of their own,” Pawlenty said today. While stressing that he respects the group and agrees with “the core principles of the Family Leader’s Marriage Vow Pledge,” Pawlenty nevertheless misspelled President Bob Vander Plaats’ name and incorrectly referred to another of the group’s staffers as “Chuck.”
Despite rejecting the document, Pawlenty has courted the group’s endorsement and shares many of its views. He was the first candidate to appear before the LEADER’s presidential lecture series in February and recently told NBC’s Meet The Press that he too believes that the science was “in dispute” about whether people choose to be gay. Pawlenty did distance himself from the group in April, however, telling ThinkProgress that he did not necessarily agree with its claim (echoed in the Pledge) that homosexuality was a public health risk:
VOLSKY: Governor, you spoke to the FAMiLY LEADER in Iowa in February, and that group has said that homosexuality is a public health risk. They’ve linked it to second hand smoking. Do you agree with that?
PAWLENTY: Well, my view in terms of the FAMiLY LEADER questions is that we have a country that has traditionally respected things like traditional marriage, which I support. But you know, I have my own views on these matters.
VOLSKY: Do you think homosexuality is a health risk?
PAWLENTY: Is it a health risk? … Well, we have some evidence to indicate that if you engage in unprotected sex you might increase the chance of getting the HIV/AIDS. But you know, that’s also true, can be true in heterosexual community as well.
The highly controversial 14-point “Declaration of Dependence Upon Marriage” calls for a ban on pornography, argues that homosexuality is a choice, and implies that black people had stronger families during slavery. Since releasing the pledge last week, the influential group has backed down from its anti-porn ban and removed the statements about African-Americans.
Earlier this week, Newt Gingrich also rejected the document, but promised to consider it if certain unspecified changes are made. Mitt Romney’s campaign also announced that he would not sign it because it “contained references and provisions that were undignified and inappropriate for a presidential campaign.” Utah Governor Jon Huntsman said he would reject the pledge the day it was released because he does not sign pledges.
Republicans have until Aug. 1 to decide if they will endorse the document.