Anti-Gay Pledge Divides Struggling Far Right from Leading GOP Candidates

Front-Runners Urged to Continue Reaching Out to All Americans; Playing On Fears Only Weakens GOP Candidates Further

August 25, 1999 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(WASHINGTON, DC) – A lengthy "pledge" being circulated by a coalition of anti-gay organizations has reinforced the widely-reported shift inside the Republican Party on inclusion of gays. Six candidates who barely register in national polls signed the pledge, while the three enjoying widespread national support – Governor George W. Bush (R-TX), Elizabeth Dole and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) – did not.

Following a spate of high-profile reports in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other major newspapers that the GOP is reaching out to gay voters, the coalition led by Iowa anti-gay activist Bill Horn penned a lengthy "marriage and family" pledge aimed at the gay community. The pledge assails domestic partnerships, opposes gays as parents under any circumstances, and labels widely applied non-discrimination policies as "special legal protection based on sexual behavior."

"It's nothing more than an attempt to demonize gay people and play on people's fears," Tafel said. "It may be the most gratuitously intolerant pledge to surface in any presidential campaign, and it makes your average mainstream suburban voter cringe," said Richard Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. "Anyone who signs it becomes instantly unelectable, if they weren't already."

The pledge also includes opposition to same-sex marriage, a position which every Democratic and Republican presidential candidate shares. President Clinton campaigned on in his support for the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act in his 1996 re-election campaign. "It is not news that Al Gore, Bill Bradley, Pat Buchanan, Gary Bauer and every other candidate is on record opposing gay marriage."

Tafel also pointed out the hypocrisy of billionaire Steve Forbes, who ran in 1996 as a libertarian fiscal conservative, but has embraced big-government social conservatism in the 2000 race and has signed the pledge.

"Here is a man who signs a pledge to oppose gays being parents, and yet would not be looked at twice as a candidate were it not for the fortune he inherited from his openly bisexual father," Tafel said. "It is the ultimate in hypocrisy."

Tafel also pointed out that national Republican leaders are catching up with the rest of America with outreach to the gay community, as Fortune 500 companies, Republican governors, the Republican mayors of New York and Los Angeles and increasing numbers of Republican Members of Congress have aggressively reached out to the gay community throughout the decade. While this has infuriated groups like Horn's, Tafel said, responding to it positively can only strengthen the Republican Party after the "extremist" tag has damaged the GOP in national elections.

Tafel urged McCain, Dole and Bush to continue reaching out to all Americans, and to unite the country behind a positive, inclusive agenda. Changing course and pandering to groups like Horn's, Tafel said, would seriously backfire.

"To cave into these people would be a sign of serious weakness, not strength," Tafel said. "It would also drive away millions of Americans who have been drawn to the leading Republican contenders by a message of appealing to the better angels of our nature, not to our darker fears."

Text of Anti-Gay Pledge

For the Importance of Marriage & Family
A Presidential Candidate Pledge:

On Marriage

I hereby pledge to the American people that if elected President of the United States, I will uphold the sacred institution of marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman. As President, I will vigilantly defend this age-old institution against any effort – judicial or legislative – to redefine it to include same-sex relationships. Furthermore, as President, I will resist all attempts to provide the benefits and privileges traditionally accorded married couples to unmarried "domestic partners" – as such efforts diminish the unique role of marriage as the bedrock of family and society.

On Family

I also pledge to use the executive office, including the bully pulpit, to advance the unchangeable truth that children need a mother and a father – a need that must not be sacrificed to special interest politics. Hence I will promote the placement of adoptable and foster care children with traditional husband-and-wife couples. I will oppose all judicial and legislative efforts to place children in homosexual households – which are motherless or fatherless by design.

On Parental Rights

When educators subject students to politicized lessons about homosexuality, they infringe upon the rights of parents to provide moral instruction to their children. I pledge, therefore, to oppose the promotion of homosexuality as normative in America's public schools, recognizing that this issue is best discussed at home.

On Civil Rights

As President, I will honor the spirit and intent of nondiscrimination policies and law to oppose federal legislation that would expand them to include special legal protection based on sexual behavior or preference. Further, I will stand for the right of private organizations – such as the Boy Scouts – to abide by own moral code.

The organizations represented below believe that the health of our society has always rested upon the shared strength of Marriage and Family. We offer this pledge to each declared presidential candidate that they may publicly acknowledge to the nation their support for laws and policies that will strengthen these vital institutions:

American Family Association
Americans for Truth about Homosexuality
Center for Reclaiming America
Christian Family Network
Citizens for Community Values
Concerned Women for America
Coral Ridge Ministries
Family First
Kerusso Ministries
Liberty Counsel
Mission America
National Legal Foundation
Stop Promoting Homosexuality International
Straight from the Heart
Toward Tradition