Perry Signs Pledge Opposing Gay Marriage

By Matt Cover | August 29, 2011 | 6:22pm EDT

Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry is introduced at a news conference in Tulsa by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) on Monday, Aug. 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

( – Republican presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry has signed a pledge from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) pledging to oppose same-sex marriage and advance a constitutional marriage amendment.

Perry joins front-runner and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) in signing the pledge promising to defend traditional marriage.

The pledge lists five commitments concerning the traditional legal definition of marriage – an issue of importance to social conservatives.

The first commitment is to support passage of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. That position marks a change for Perry, who previously said that the legal definition of marriage is the states’ prerogative, while also opposing having one state’s definition imposed on another state.

“Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That's New York, and that's their business, and that's fine with me,” Perry told an audience in Aspen, Colorado July 22.

“That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business.”

Days later Perry further clarified his stance, saying that he opposed re-defining marriage and reiterating that the right way to protect traditional marriage was at the state level.

“[I]t’s fine with me that the state is using their sovereign right to decide an issue,” Perry told the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins in a July 28 interview.

“Again, my comment reflects my recognition that marriage and most issues of the family historically have been decided by the people at the state and local level. That is absolutely the state of law under our constitution.”

However, in the same interview, Perry also said that he opposed allowing “liberal special interests” and “activist judges” to impose a definition of marriage on the states, broaching the possibility of using a constitutional amendment to define it.

“[T]hat is the reason that the federal marriage amendment is being offered, it’s that small group of activist judges, and frankly a small handful, if you will, of states, and liberal special interests groups that intend on a redefinition of, if you will, marriage on the nation, for all of us, which I adamantly oppose.”

Perry said that using a constitutional amendment to define marriage would protect states like Texas from having marriage defined for them.

“Indeed to not pass the federal marriage amendment would impinge on Texas, and other states not to have marriage forced upon us by these activist judges and special interest groups.”

The National Organization for Marriage pledge has now been signed by 2012 GOP candidates Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum.

Judicial restraint

The second commitment in the NOM pledge is to appoint federal judges and justices who “are committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution” and who reject the idea that “our Founding Fathers inserted a right to gay marriage into our Constitution.”

The third pledge simply binds candidates to support the Defense of Marriage Act “vigorously” in court. President Obama has signaled that he will not in any way defend the law, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman and applies to federal benefits and other programs.

The fourth commitment says that as president, the signatory will “establish a presidential commission on religious liberty” to investigate claims of threats or harassment of individuals who advocate against same-sex marriage.

The fifth point of the pledge is to “advance legislation” allowing for a popular vote in Washington, D.C. on whether or not to allow same-sex marriage. The D.C. City Council passed a bill in 2009 allowing gay marriage and Mayor Adrian Fenty, a Democrat, signed it into law on December 18 of that year.

Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of the Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., sued the city to allow for a ballot initiative on the issue, but was denied when the city Board of Elections and several federal appeals courts turned him down.

NOM praised Perry for signing the pledge, saying it meant that marriage would be a bigger issue in the 2012 presidential election than the previous one.

“Kudos to Gov. Rick Perry for making it clear: he's a marriage champion,” Brian Brown, president of NOM said in a Aug. 26 statement.

“By doing so, Perry makes crystal clear that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, gay marriage is going to be a bigger issue in 2012 than it was in 2008, because the difference between the GOP nominee and Pres. Obama is going to be large and clear,” he said.

“We look forward to demonstrating that being for marriage is a winning position for a presidential candidate.”

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