Rick Perry fails to win support of anti-gay leaders; TV ad backfiring among some Iowa Republicans

Gov. Rick Perry

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential campaign suffered yet another setback Tuesday when Bob Vander Plaats, a leading social conservative in Iowa who serves as president of the anti-gay Family Leader organization, endorsed Rick Santorum in the state’s Jan. 3 Republican Caucus.

Perry’s campaign had actively courted the Family Leader’s endorsement, and he signed the group’s controversial “marriage pledge” last month. Politico notes that Perry is in a three-way battle for Iowa’s coveted evangelical vote against Santorum and Michele Bachmann. Vander Plaats’ endorsement could help determine who moves on to New Hampshire and who does not.

Adding salt to Perry’s wounds, Don Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association, endorsed Newt Gingrich on Tuesday. If you’ll remember, the AFA, which is considered an anti-gay hate group, teamed with Perry for The Response, the August prayer rally in Houston that served as a kickoff for his presidential campaign — and at which Wildmon embraced Perry on stage. Right Wing Watch reports on Wildmon’s endorsement of Gingrich:

Wildmon today appeared on Focal Point with Bryan Fischer where he explained that while he was initially “ecstatic” about Rick Perry’s candidacy, he decided that because of the Texas governor’s disastrous debate appearances his candidacy “cannot recover.” Wildmon said that electability matters because “we are facing the most critical election this nation has ever seen, the stake in this election is Western civilization.”

Despite Tuesday’s setbacks, The Dallas Morning News’ Wayne Slater reports that Perry, who’s still polling in the lower tier of candidates, plans to remain in the race beyond Iowa regardless of where he finishes. But Slater also notes the Perry’s infamous anti-gay TV ad, “Strong,” appears to be backfiring among some Republican voters:

At a historic hotel in Maquoketa, 61-year-old Len Ditch sat in the front row, wearing a Perry for President sticker. He said he liked Perry’s commercials in Iowa — especially one recommending that Congress be made part-time. He liked another one advocating prayer in schools but questioned why Perry had included a reference to gays serving openly in the military.

“I don’t believe in the gay world. But I believe live and let live,” he said.

Meanwhile, KWQC Channel 6 in Davenport, Iowa, has posted a transcript from an interview with Perry in which the station asked Perry about “Strong” and whether he thinks being gay is a choice. Read the excerpt below:

—  John Wright

Republicans tout support for ‘traditional values’

Candidates jockey for position as most anti-gay at forum sponsored by ‘family values’ groups

Rep. Newt Gingrich

Rep. Newt Gingrich

Lisa Keen  |  Keen News Service
lisakeen@mac.com

Current Republican presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich used a right-wing Christian forum Saturday, Nov. 19, to claim “the left” is trying to “drive out the existence of traditional religions … and use the government to repress the American people against their own values.”

He made the comment in the context of a discussion about whether religious-oriented adoption agencies should be allowed to refuse adoptions to same-sex couples. Some states, such as Massachusetts, have cut off government funding to adoption groups that refuse to obey state laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

At that same event, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that gay couples in Texas cannot adopt, which isn’t true, strictly speaking. Gays and lesbians can adopt as individuals, and in most cases, that person’s partner can do a second-parent adoption separately.

Without referring to gay groups or the LGBT community specifically, Gingrich lashed out against a movement that, since the 1960s, has gone from “a request for tolerance to an imposition of intolerance … [and] closing down those with traditional values.”

Gingrich said he would support a law that would cut off “all federal funding to any jurisdiction that discriminates against religious beliefs in that format.”

The forum was the “Iowa Thanksgiving Family Forum,” sponsored by the Family Leader group of Iowa, as well as the National Organization for Marriage and Focus on the Family. Its format was an “around the family table” kind of conversation with Gingrich and five other Republican presidential hopefuls, including Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain and Perry.

Mitt Romney, who has been eschewing most Iowa events, declined an invitation.

The candidates responded to questions from a moderator and from several representatives of the host groups, including Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage. The topics centered around such broad themes as values, morality and liberty, with a strong bent toward the view that the country is divided into conservatives — who are all happy, God-loving citizens — and liberals, who are all sad and out to destroy religious freedom.

As has become his routine, Santorum boasted about his superiority in the GOP field when it comes to opposing marriage between same-sex couples. Same-sex marriage, he said, “radically changes the entire moral fabric of our country.

“Gay marriage is wrong,” said Santorum. “As Abraham Lincoln said, the states do not have the right to do wrong. … America is an ideal. It’s not just a Constitution.”

But only Cain spoke up when Brown solicited responses for what each candidate would do, as president, if the U.S. Supreme Court should overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.

Cain said he would “lead the charge to overturn the Supreme Court.” After some prodding from the moderator, Gingrich did offer up that he thought it important to “make DOMA not appealable” in the courts.

Brown’s questions came near the end of the two-hour event, held at the First Federated Church in Des Moines. His first, directed to Rep. Paul, was whether he would support an amendment to the federal Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. It was an odd question, given that Paul has for years been on record publicly as opposing such an amendment and voted against it in 2004.

Paul reiterated his opposition, noting that he believes generally that the issue should be left to the states or, preferably, to individual churches and families.

But Paul added that he does support DOMA.

Brown then asked other candidates to explain why they believe a federal marriage amendment is necessary. Santorum jumped in with a recap of his strategy to “stop this problem” through battles state by state. Bachmann touted her own leadership against same-sex marriage in Minnesota.

The forum was marked by dramatically emotional moments in which the candidates shared personal stories related to their faith.

Santorum acknowledged having decided to keep an emotional distance from his infant daughter who he believed would soon die in order to avoid the pain of the potential loss.

Herman Cain talked about what it was like to hear that he had stage four cancer.

Michele Bachmann recalled what it was like, as a child, to watch her mother sell the family’s dishes and other possessions after she divorced Bachmann’s father.

The moderator, Fox News contributor Frank Luntz, and news reports indicated 3,000 people were in attendance at the forum. The chief sponsor, The Family Leader, helped organize last year’s ousting of three Iowa Supreme Court justices who voted with the unanimous court to say the state constitution required equal treatment of same-sex and heterosexual couples under marriage laws.

© 2011 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 25, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Republican presidential candidates split over right-wing ‘Marriage Vow’

Tim Pawlenty

But candidates’ refusal to sign pledge not an indication of a shift in views on gay marriage

LISA KEEN | Keen News Service
lisakeen@me.com

The campaigns of Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney and four other GOP presidential candidates said this week they would not sign the bizarre pledge that at least two other GOP competitors did sign — a pledge that promises the candidate will vigorously oppose even “court-imposed recognition” of same-sex marriage.

The refusal of Romney and the other candidates does not signal a change in their opposition to same-sex marriage, but does appear to suggest the GOP field may be re-evaluating how far it is willing to go to appease the party’s far right wing.

The pledge, called “The Marriage Vow,” is being circulated by a Christian-oriented political advocacy group — The Family Leader — that organized the successful recall of three Iowa Supreme Court justices because they ruled in favor of marriage equality.

The rambling two-page pledge, which includes two additional pages of footnotes, calls on candidates for state and federal offices to “vow” that they will not receive any campaign support “from any of us without first affirming this Marriage Vow,” that they will “uphold and advance the natural Institution of Marriage,” and remain faithful to their own spouses.

Among the 14 specific positions called for in the Marriage Vow is an “Earnest, bona fide legal advocacy for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) at the federal and state levels.” The 1996 federal law bans federal recognition of same-sex marriages and asserts that individual states can ignore marriage licenses issued by other states to same-sex couples.

The Marriage Vow also requires candidates to give a “steadfast embrace” to a proposed amendment to the federal Constitution to ban same-sex marriages nationally.

In an apparent reference to the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, the Marriage Vow has a candidate promise support for “safeguards” for military personnel from “intrusively intimate commingling among attracteds (restrooms, showers, barracks, tents, etc.).”

And one footnote contends there is no “empirical proof” that same-sex “inclinations are genetically determined, irresistible and akin to innate traits like race, gender and eye color . …”

The Marriage Vow does not limit itself to gay-related issues. It also calls for candidates to say “robust childbearing and reproduction is beneficial to U.S. demographic, economic, strategic and actuarial health and security,” to support the “downsizing” of government, and to support the protection of women from “sexual slavery, seduction into promiscuity, and all forms of pornography and prostitution, infanticide, abortion and other types of coercion or stolen innocence.”

A spokesperson for the Romney campaign told the Wall Street Journal, in an article published July 13, that Romney “felt this pledge contained references and provisions that were undignified and inappropriate for a presidential campaign.”

Jimmy LaSalvia, head of GOProud, a national conservative gay group, said Romney “should be praised for those comments, and for keeping his campaign focused on the issues that the American people care about the most: jobs and the economy.”

R. Clarke Cooper, head of Log Cabin Republicans, the national gay Republican group, said the pledge is “outside the scope of mainstream views.”

“Republican presidential candidates seriously seeking to win the general election are wise to avoid such an extreme position,” said Cooper. “Divisive and sometimes off-the-wall rhetoric on social issues will obscure a solid conservative fiscal message. Americans will not vote for somebody who has demonized their family, friends, neighbors and colleagues.”

Other Republican presidential candidates who have, thus far, balked at signing the pledge are former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.

Johnson issued a statement calling the Marriage Vow “offensive to the principles of liberty and freedom on which this country was founded.” His website includes a video urging that it is un-American to discriminate against others “for the way they were born” or to use the federal government to “override the decisions of the states.”

Pawlenty posted a statement July 13 on his campaign’s website July 13, saying that, if elected president, “I would vigorously oppose any effort to redefine marriage as anything other than between one man and one woman.” But while he said he “deeply respects” the Family Leader’s commitment regarding marriage, he would “prefer to choose my own words” concerning marriage and would “respectfully decline” to sign the pledge.

Gingrich, in an appearance before the Family Leader July 11, reportedly said he would offer some edits to “sharpen” the pledge. The Des Moines Register said Gingrich said he wanted to review the document and was “working out some details.”

The only two Republicans to have signed the pledge — Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania — came under heavy scrutiny for having done so.

Bachmann and Santorum both had to address criticism for signing the Marriage Vow because the pledge originally included a sentence implying that African-American children were better off during slavery times than they are now, under the administration of the first African-American president.

According to the Huffington Post, the pledge originally included this sentence: “Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.”

Huffington Post noted that the sentence has since been removed, and Bachmann told Fox News on July 12 that the sentence “was not on a document that I signed.”

“I just want to make it absolutely clear,” Bachmann told Fox News, “I abhor slavery. Slavery was a terrible part of our nation’s history. It’s good that we no longer have slavery. And under no circumstances would any child be better off growing up under slavery. That isn’t what I signed. That isn’t what I believe. What I signed was a statement that affirmed marriage as an important part of our nation. And I agree with that.”

The Human Rights Campaign issued a statement July 12 calling Bachmann’s signing of the pledge “a dangerous level of extremism.”

Bachmann, Santorum, and four other Republican presidential hopefuls have also signed the “Pro-Life Citizen’s Pledge,” promising that their nominees to the federal courts will be committed to “not legislating from the bench,” that their executive branch appointees — such as Cabinet positions — will be “pro-life,” and that they will “advance pro-life legislation to permanently end all taxpayer funding of abortion.”

The other four candidates include Gingrich, Pawlenty, and Reps. Ron Paul of Texas and Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan.

All but McCotter, who just recently announced his candidacy for the nomination, spoke before the Family Leader’s “Presidential Lecture Series,” as did candidate Herman Cain. Romney did not.

The head of the Family Leader organization, Bob Vander Plaats, was the organizer of the successful campaign last year to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices who were part of the unanimous decision that the state constitution requires that same-sex couples be treated the same as heterosexual couples in the issuance of marriage licenses.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign posted its own petition for GOP candidates July 12, asking HRC supporters to sign a statement urging GOP presidential candidates to speak out publicly against therapy that alleges to change gays into straights.

© 2011 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Romney won’t sign ‘Marriage Vow’; Bachmann says being gay is ‘part of Satan’

Mitt Romney

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won’t sign a right-wing Iowa group’s anti-gay “Marriage Vow” pledge, according to the Associated Press. A spokeswoman for Romney said he “strongly supports traditional marriage,” but that the pledge “contained references and provisions that were undignified and inappropriate for a presidential campaign.” According to the AP, Romney is the first GOP candidate to reject the Family Leader’s pledge, which the group says candidates must sign to be eligible for its endorsement. Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum have already signed the 14-point “Marriage Vow.”

2. Speaking of Bachmann, as she continues to face intense media scrutiny over her “ex-gay” clinic — Good As You has dredged up an audio clip of the Minnesota congresswoman speaking at a conference in 2004 where she suggested that being gay is “part of Satan.”

3. Which brings us back to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is now said to have a “huge opening” if he decides to enter the GOP presidential primary. Which is why we’re glad Right Wing Watch is continuing its damning investigation of Perry’s partners for his Aug. 6 day of prayer in Houston. The latest gem uncovered by Right Wing Watch is Dr. John Benefiel of the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network, who believes homosexuality is a population control plot by the Illuminati. Watch video below.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Slavery dropped from ‘Marriage Vow’; Presbyterian Church celebrates gay clergy

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is the only major GOP presidential candidate who’s spoken out against the Family Leader’s “Marriage Vow.”

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. The “Marriage Vow” pledge that a right-wing Iowa group is asking presidential candidates to sign continues to make headlines. Over the weekend, the group, called the Family Leader, removed a portion of the pledge’s preamble which suggested blacks were better off during slavery. But this wasn’t before GOP candidates Michele Bachmann — who, alarmingly, leads one recent Iowa poll — and Rick Santorum had already signed the pledge, which also says homosexuality is a choice and calls for banning all pornography. Thus far, only one GOP presidential candidate, Gary Johnson, has spoken out against the pledge, although Jon Huntsman has also confirmed he won’t sign it.

2. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s new policy allowing ordination of non-celibate gays and lesbians took effect Sunday. Many congregations marked the change with a national day of prayer organized by More Light Presbyterians, which pushes for LGBT equality within the church. The 2.8 million member Presbyterian Church joins other Protestant denominations including the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, in allowing gay clergy.

3. Six police officers have been fired for lying about what happened during a September 2009 raid of the Atlanta Eagle, a gay bar, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. More officers face hearings this week following the release of a 343-page report showing they lied or destroyed evidence in the wake of the raid. Eight men were arrested during the raid, but charges were dropped and the city later paid the men more than $1 million to settle a federal lawsuit.

—  John Wright

Dueling Iowa protests staged over gay marriage

A DIRE WARNING | Gay marriage supporters, left, look on as former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore speaks during an anti gay-marriage rally sponsored by The Family Leader March 15 at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa. Moore warned that gay marriage would result in child abuse and more divorces. (Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

Former Alabama  justice ousted over 10 Commandments monument claims gay marriage would increase child abuse, divorce

Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa — About 500 people rallied Tuesday, March 15, at the Iowa Capitol, urging legislators to send a constitutional amendment to voters that would ban same-sex marriage.

The rally featured former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, who said gay marriage will result in child abuse and divorce. He asked opponents to set an example.

“What happens in Iowa, the rest of the nation watches,” Moore said.

About an hour after Moore’s rally, dozens of supporters of gay marriage rights held their own counter-rally.

Moore made national headlines in 2003 when he refused to abide by a federal court order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the state judicial building. He was later removed from office.

Moore praised Iowa residents for voting in November to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices who supported a unanimous 2009 decision that found a state law limiting marriage to heterosexual couples violated the Iowa Constitution.

“I’m proud to say that the people of Iowa stood up to the justices on the Supreme Court and voted them out of office,” Moore said.

Also addressing the crowd was the Rev. Keith Ratliff, pastor at Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church in Des Moines, who charged that the gay community is hijacking the civil rights movement for its own purposes.

“In my humble opinion there is no parallel,” Ratliff said. “What an insult to the civil rights movement.”

Troy Price, the political director of One Iowa, the state’s largest gay rights organization, said Ratliff is wrong.

“There are thousands of gays and lesbians across the state that recognize this is an issue of rights, the right to be with the person you love,” Price said.

Price said supporters of same-sex marriage have been working to tell legislators, especially Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, that there is wide support for the court’s decision.

A resolution calling for a statewide vote on whether to amend the Iowa Constitution to ban gay marriages passed the Republican-controlled House in February with overwhelming support and headed to the Senate, where Democrats are in the majority and leaders have vowed to block debate.

The resolution would have to be approved by the current Legislature and the one to be elected next year to get onto the ballot.
Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, has the authority to decide which issues are debated in the full Senate, and has said he will not allow a vote on the resolution.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright