Seems like only yesterday that many of the 2012 GOP candidates were falling all over each other to sign the Family Leader's "Marriage Vow" pledge, which asked candidates to promise "vigorous opposition" to marriage equality. But it actually wasn't just yesterday when this happened, it was weeks ago! You mean to tell me that none of the candidates have done anything dramatic to oppose same-sex marriage since then? Oh, what's that you say? The National Organization for Marriage now has their own pledge, seeking the same promises? What a relief. These candidates should have to sign such pledges on a weekly basis!
What does the NOM pledge offer that the Family Leader's pledge doesn't? For one thing, it offers former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney a lot more wiggle room to sign it:
Romney rejected an earlier pledge sponsored by a conservative Iowa group, which both Bachmann and Santorum signed. That pledge was more far-reaching, requiring candidates not only to oppose gay marriage but to reject Muslim law, protect women and children from pornography and abortion, accept “evidence” that married people enjoy longer lives, and numerous other provisions.
NOM requires only that candidates "support sending a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the states for ratification," nominate judges and Supreme Court justices who oppose marriage equality, defend DOMA "vigorously in court," create a special commission on "religious liberty" to investigate claims of anti-gay marriage supporters who have been "harassed or threatened," and force new legislation down the throats of District of Columbia residents in the hopes that the city's own marriage equality laws get overturned. The Family Leader's pledge, on the other hand, forbade candidates from making any appointments that didn't sit well with them. So, NOM is okay if say, Mitt Romney's Secretary of Transportation isn't openly hostile to the LGBT community.
That part about a special commission to investigate harassment probably could use some explanation. Here's Dave Weigel:
The "harassment" being referred to, if we're taking NOM's recent legal activity and arguments into account, includes public records reports and journalism about who's donating to political campaigns. So this is a request for presidential candididates to give special protections to certain people based on their political beliefs.
Basically, what NOM wants is for all the people who donate money to anti-gay causes to be allowed to do so in secret. When Americans, more than half of whom support marriage equality, identify someone who funds such causes, what tends to happen is that they do things like protest their organizations and boycott their businesses, as if they were allowed to express their rational self-interest in a free market, or something. So, we're talking about people who despise those who support gay marriage, but nevertheless cannot bear to be disliked by the same people, or part with even a dollar of their money.
(I suppose that such a commission might take a stand against marriage equality supporters doing things like burning down the houses of homophobes, or punching them in the face. But aren't there already laws on the books that forbid and deter such crimes? I'm just using the same argument as an anti-gay activist who is opposed to hate crime amplifications in cases of gay-bashing, here.)
Anyway, Mitt Romney was free and clear to sign this thing (he's really changed, hasn't he!), but Tim Pawlenty has opted against it. As Alex Pareene notes, this had some conservatives flummoxed. Why wouldn't Pawlenty sign it? How weird is that? I mean, everyone is sort of tired of pledges, but isn't it weird Pawlenty didn't sign? Huh? Isn't it?
Of course, Pawlenty continually inveighs against same-sex marriage and is constantly citing the fact that he co-authored a Minnesota version of DOMA and supports a Constitutional Amendment that would restrict marriage to heterosexual couples. So it raises the question: for what sort of people is this not good enough? My answer is: disingenuous and corrupt people!
UPDATE, 5:40pm: Everyone can calm down, Pawlenty says he'll sign the pledge. At this point, he will do anything to not lose the Ames Straw Poll.