Romney signs new pledge banning gay marriage

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has signed a new pledge opposing gay marriage.

The pledge, sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage, commits candidates to supporting a federal marriage amendment to the Constitution that defines marriage as between one man and one woman; defending the federal Defense of Marriage Act in court; appointing judges and an attorney general “who will respect the original meaning of the Constitution’’; appointing a commission to investigate harassment of traditional marriage supporters; and introducing legislation giving Washington, D.C., residents the right to vote on same-sex marriage.

Candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum also signed the pledge.

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Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty did not. “The Governor and First Lady chose to express their commitment to the institution of marriage using their own words in a video about their values and faith,’’ said campaign spokesman Alex Conant, referring to a video posted at pawlentyfaith.com. “We appreciate the opportunity but respectfully decline to sign the pledge.’’

Romney spokesman Ryan Williams called the NOM pledge a “straightforward pledge that reaffirms Governor Romney’s support for tradition marriage.’’

Romney has opposed gay marriage in his presidential campaigns both this year and in 2008. But he said in his 1994 Senate campaign against Democrat Edward Kennedy that he would be a greater advocate for gay rights than Kennedy.

Romney rejected an earlier pledge sponsored by a conservative Iowa group, which both Bachmann and Santorum signed. That pledge was more far-reaching, requiring candidates not only to oppose gay marriage  but to reject Muslim law, protect women and children from pornography and abortion, accept “evidence’’ that married people enjoy longer lives, and numerous other provisions.

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