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Thursday, June 18, 2015

It's easy: sign the pledge, and you're a "major presidential candidate."

The National Organization for Marriage, planning to counterprogram the Supreme Court verdict that didn't happen today, has issued its 2016 GOP Presidential Candidate Suicide Pact.

The 2016 version makes a number of changes from its last iteration, mostly to reflect that the organization has been on defense the past four years, losing on every front:

2011: One, Support the sending of a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the states for ratification.

2015: One, support a federal constitutional amendment that protects marriage as the union of one man and one woman. 

2011: Two, nominate to the US Supreme Court and federal bench judges who are committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution. Appoint an attorney general similarly committed, and thus reject the idea that our Founding Fathers inserted a right to gay marriage into our Constitution.

2015: Two, oppose and work to overturn any Supreme Court decision that illegitimately finds a constitutional "right" to the redefinition of marriage. This includes nominating to the U.S. Supreme Court and federal bench judges who are committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution, and appointing an attorney general similarly committed. 

2011: Three, defend the federal defense of marriage act vigorously in court.*

2015: Three, conduct a review of regulatory, administrative and executive actions taken by the current Administration that have the effect of undermining marriage and work to restore our policies to be consistent with the proper understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Consistent with this, prevent the promotion of a redefined version of marriage in public schools and other government entities.

2011: Four, Establish a presidential commission on religious liberty to investigate and document reports of Americans who have been harassed or threatened for exercising key civil rights to organize, the speak, to donate, to vote for marriage and to propose new protections, if needed.

2015: Four, support the First Amendment Defense Act and other legislation that recognizes the right of organizations and individuals to act in the public square consistent with their belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman without fear of retaliation from the government. **

2011: Five, Advance legislation to return to the people of the District of Columbia the right to vote on marriage.***

2015: Five, direct the Department of Justice to 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.

Of their last pledge, NOM says, "In 2012, every major candidate signed NOM’s presidential pledge." Of course, in practice this meant that if you signed the pledge, you became a major presidential candidate. In August, 2011, NOM announced that Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachmann were the three "champions of marriage" who'd taken the pledge.

Tim Pawlenty first declined, then signed; Rick Perry followed suit. Newt Gingrich said no, then yes, in December 2011; NOM obligingly declared another major candidate had signed up. Ron Paul and Herman Cain said no. NOM ran ads in Iowa against Paul, warning voters he was not the real deal and telling them he was not a major presidential candidate. This made NOM cofounder Maggie Gallagher get really worked up in November, 2011, when Cain still hadn't signed up. Other GOP candidates who declined to sign NOM just ignored, like former Governors Jon Huntsman and Gary Johnson, and gay activist Fred Karger.

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* In February 2011, the Obama Administration announced it has determined DOMA was unconstitutional and would no longer defend it in court. In 2013 the US Supreme Court declared the act unconstitutional.

** Why this has been demoted, and reworded, NOM has not explained. Maybe a DOJ review is thought easier to manipulate than a presidential commission. Maybe NOM discovered, after losing a string of court cases trying to override state campaign disclosure laws to keep the public from knowing how few donors it has, figures the broad generality is best.

*** In late 2009 the District of Columbia government passed legislation legalizing marriage equality; Congress did not overturn it; and a court case went to the US Supreme Court, which rejected the appeal.

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