Instant Guide

Michele Bachmann's 'disturbing' anti-porn pledge

The GOP presidential hopeful is the first candidate to sign an Iowa group's controversial "Marriage Vow"

The Family Leader, one of Iowa's most influential social conservative organizations, says that in order to receive the group's endorsement, GOP presidential candidates must sign a 14-point pledge affirming a commitment to traditional marriage. By signing the pledge, called The Marriage Vow, a candidate agrees to remain faithful to his or her partner, oppose gay marriage, reject pornography, reject Islamic sharia law, and uphold the assertion that married couples have better sex, among other things. Michele Bachmann has already signed it. How will this affect her campaign? Here, a brief guide:

Bachmann is banning porn?
Well, not exactly. According to Vow 9, the Minnesota congresswoman is pledging to protect women and children from "all forms of pornography." As Justin Elliott at Salon notes, this could certainly be read as effectively being "a porn ban." And that's problematic, says Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress, because porn is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution, and only the most "patently offensive" material may be banned outright. "Our Constitution does not leave this choice up to the whims of government officials."

What does the pledge say about homosexuality?
According to the pledge, homosexuality is both a choice and a health risk. Same-sex marriage is classified alongside polygamy and adultery as a threat to the institution of marriage. That stance is quite "disturbing," says Instinct.

What's the most controversial aspect of the pledge?
The anti-porn language may be winning the most headlines, but perhaps the biggest outcry is over an aspect of the pledge that states that a child born into slavery was "more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household" than one born after the election of President Obama. The anti-sharia language is also being met with howls of outrage on the Left.

Will this hurt her campaign?
While it might hurt her in a general election, it could actually help in Iowa. Some of the basic themes in the Marriage Vow may ring true to many Bachmann supporters and the social conservatives who will decide the critical first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, says Ron Chusid at Liberal Values. Indeed, many on the Right are already applauding the Tea Party favorite. "Bachmann nails it" with this anti-sharia pledge, says Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugs. "Finally, a candidate who isn't afraid to say A is A." Certainly, the congresswoman "had no qualms" about signing the pledge, says Bachmann aide Alice Stewart.

Will anyone else sign?
Republican candidates are in a tough spot, says Alex Roarty at National Journal. The pledge is rife with widely "unpopular stands on cultural issues," but a failure to sign would potentially anger a "still-important bloc of social conservatives in Iowa." The tough anti-sharia language may be too much for Mitt Romney, says Tim Murphy at Mother Jones, especially after he defended American Muslims at June's New Hampshire debate. The pledge also creates an "acute dilemma" for Tim Pawlenty, says Roarty at National Journal, since he's pledged to make campaigning in Iowa a major part of his strategy. But he risks angering the establishment if he signs this pledge, and grassroots activists in Iowa if he fails to sign. A spokesman for moderate Jon Hunstman says the candidate will not sign this — or any — pledge. Rick Santorum signed the pledge late Friday afternoon.

Sources: Atlas ShrugsDaily KosLiberal ValuesMediaiteMother JonesNational Journal, Politico, Salon, ThinkProgress

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