Aside from its yearly and not-all-that-impressive rally on the National Mall, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) hasn’t done much lately besides constantly asking supporters to “make a quick donation.” But on Thursday, the anti-LGBT organization issued a pledge that it’s asking Republican presidential candidates to sign, affirming their wholehearted opposition to marriage equality and gay rights generally.
By signing the five-point pledge, candidates would commit to running administrations calibrated to enforce discrimination against the gay community. First, they’d support a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, a proposal that last failed 236 to 187 in the House of Representatives in 2006. They’d also work to overturn any marriage equality decision by the Supreme Court through their judge and justice nominations and by appointing a “similarly committed” attorney general.
Next, they’d undo every single administrative protection from the Obama administration that has “the effect of undermining marriage” while imposing policies that only recognize “marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” The pledge specifies their commitment to preventing “ the promotion of a redefined version of marriage in public schools and other government entities.” This would likely include much of the federal recognition of same-sex marriages that followed the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision overturning the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
NOM also expects candidates to support a piece of legislation deceptively called the “First Amendment Defense Act” (FADA). Previously introduced by Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) under the moniker of the “Marriage and Religious Freedom Act,” FADA is nothing short of a nationwide license to discriminate against same-sex couples. As the Family Research Council explained endorsing the bill this week, anybody who refuses to recognize a same-sex couple’s marriage would be immune to any penalization by the government.
Likewise, NOM wants candidates to direct the Department of Justice to focus on protecting religious Americans who are held accountable for discriminating instead of those in the LGBT community who might actually be discriminated against. “Investigate, document, and publicize cases of Americans who have been harassed or threatened for exercising key civil rights to organize, to speak, to donate or to vote for marriage and to propose new protections, if needed,” it advises.
Nationwide polling on marriage equality is currently hovering around 60 percent support. A recent CNN/ORC poll found that 63 percent believe same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, including 59 percent of Republicans under the age of 50. Pew polling recently found that 57 percent support allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, including 73 percent of Millennials (born 1981 or later) and 59 percent of Generation X (born 1965–1980).
In other words, wholly committing to undoing all of marriage equality — as NOM is unequivocally asking — is a nothing short of a death wish for a candidate actually hoping to win the general election. Still, it seems likely that at least a few candidates will sign the pledge. Ted Cruz surely will; he has already filed for the passage of a federal marriage amendment. Scott Walker, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Perry have all expressed support for an amendment. Marco Rubio has claimed he’s never supported such an amendment, though he actually has.
NOM President Brian Brown explained to CNN that “Republicans need to not just give lip service to marriage,” but commit to “concrete steps to protect marriage.” He added that regardless of how many candidates sign the pledge, “We are [only] going to support he candidates that stand up and sign the pledge.” With a Supreme Court seemingly about to put the final nail in NOM’s coffin (and coffers), it remains unclear what their support would even mean for a candidate.