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July 9th, 2011

The Family Leader Retracts Slavery Language from Pledge

Two days after unveiling a “Marriage Vow” pledge for presidential candidates that was quickly signed by Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, The Family Leader organization has retracted some controversial language from the oath.

During the “Declaration of Dependence” part of the pledge, there is an inference that babies born into slavery were better off than black babies born today because more slave babies came from two-parent households.  Here is the line that has since been retracted from the pledge:

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 is an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.

Iowa Family Policy Center president Chuck Hurley paraphrased the line during the Thursday afternoon news conference, which you can view below or by clicking here.

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann signed the pledge just hours after it was released.  She began catching a lot criticism over the slavery language.  Tonight, The Family Leader issued a statement that removed the slavery reference.  “After careful deliberation and wise insight and input from valued colleagues we deeply respect, we agree that the statement referencing children born into slavery can be misconstrued, and such misconstruction can detract from the core message of the Marriage Vow: that ALL of us must work to strengthen and support families and marriages between one woman and one man.  We sincerely apologize for any negative feelings this has caused, and have removed the language from the vow.”

Bachmann’s campaign is now trying to spin the incident, claiming the slavery language was contained in the “preamble”, not the actual “candidate vow” that she signed.  However, the documents are attached.  In fact, the version released to the media, the “candidate vow” is on the reverse side of the “preamble”.

During her campaign stop in Urbandale on Saturday, Bachmann promised that as president, she would read every single piece of legislation in its entirely before she signs it.  One has to wonder if the former tax attorney even bothered to read the entire “Marriage Vow” in her mad rush to pander to the group headed by Bob Vander Plaats.

The slavery reference is not the only controversial part of the pledge.  There are several portions that are completely unrelated to marriage in the “Marriage Vow”.  For instance, Bachmann is campaigning to be the first female Commander-in-Chief.  However, she signed a pledge promising that she would promptly terminate any military policymakers who place females “in forward combat roles”.   Does Bachmann believe that women are unfit to be soldiers, but they are perfectly fit to command the entire United States Armed Forces?

It is unfortunate that Bachmann and Santorum were in such a hurry to sign this flawed document.  It is also a missed opportunity for the other candidates, who could have rejected the pledge outright and foiled The Family Leader’s attempt to wield significant influence over the Ames Straw Poll.  The Family Leader will release its list of who has and who has not signed the pledge just one or two days prior to the August 13th Straw Poll.

Photo by Dave Davidson

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About the Author

Kevin Hall
Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor's office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad's 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for

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