Bachmann Signs Controversial Marriage Pledge

The statement, which has since been amended, asserted that African-American families were stronger during slavery.

Posted: 07/10/2011 11:03 PM EDT

She’s back! After weeks spent impressing political observers with her restrained and relatively gaffe-free performance on the campaign trail, the Minnesota representative and Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachman of old may be making a comeback.

 

Bachmann signed a pro-traditional marriage pledge late last week titled “The Marriage Vow—A Declaration of Dependence Upon Marriage and Family,” crafted by an Iowa evangelical group, The Family Leader, which states that African-American children fared better during slavery than they do now with President Obama in the White House. Former Pennsylvania senator and GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum also signed the pledge, which calls for a ban on gay marriage and pornography.

 

“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 was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA's first African-American president,” the preamble reads.

 

What was she thinking? According to Fox News, Bachmann may not have been aware of the controversial passage, and a campaign spokesperson said that the Minnesota lawmaker stands by the document’s other points.

 

“She stands by the points that are outlined in the pledge,” Alice Stewart told the network. "Particularly the ones for strong marriage. She's been happily married for 32 years. That’s the focus of the pledge.”

 

But ignorance is not an excuse and will likely not placate her critics, who found the passage astoundingly offensive.

 

"Given that families were broken up regularly for sales during slavery and that rape by masters was pretty common, this could not be more offensive," Cheryl Contee wrote on her blog, Jack and Jill Politics. "When will Republicans inquire with actual Black people whether or not we're OK with invoking slavery to score cheap political points? It has to stop. It is the opposite of persuasive and is another reason Republicans repel. It's hard to believe that Michele Bachmann would be foolish enough to sign this pledge."

 

As a result of the outrage unleashed by Contee and others, the language has been removed, and Bob Vander Plaats, who heads The Family Leader, has issued an apology.

 

“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," he said. "We sincerely apologize for any negative feelings this has caused, and have removed the language from the vow.”

(Photo: Steve Pope/Getty Images)

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