The Marriage Vow or "The Marriage Vow - A Declaration of Dependence Upon Marriage and Family" is a political pledge created by Bob Vander Plaats, a former candidate for Iowa governor, and the Iowa-based conservative group; The Family Leader, a public advocacy organization affiliated with the Iowa Family Policy Center, that he heads.[1] Signing the pledge, created in early July[when?], was a requirement to receive any support from the organization. Signing the pledge entailed supporting a monogamous heterosexual definition of marriage, as well as backing a ban on pornography, abortion, and Sharia Law. Notable signees include Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum,[2] while the pledge drew notable criticism from libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.[3]


The vow begins with a series of preambles, each designed to show the "great crisis" in the institution of marriage.[1] Later, the first preamble, one that claimed that children of slaves were more likely to live in 2 parent households than children are today, was redacted due to the criticism it received.[4] The following are the vows the candidates pledged to by signing.[1]



Claims of racism

One of the preambles to the pledge, drew massive amounts of criticism for claiming that children of slaves were more likely to live in a 2 parent household. "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."[4] Several days later, Plaats sent out an email clarifying that "Our critics are distorting the facts and misrepresenting The Marriage Vow. The preamble to the vow references relevant and sobering data which points to marriages and families being in crisis. The FAMiLY LEADER has never made the claim, nor ever will, that slavery was better for families."[6] The preamble was later removed from the pledge.[4]

Gary Johnson

On July 19, Gary Johnson published an article in the Huffington Post criticizing The Marriage Vow. He claimed that the pledge endorsed government intervention into the personal lives of citizens, while criticizing the discriminatory language of the pledge. He went on to state that Pledge's focus on social issues redirected attention from areas like the economy.[3]

Other criticisms

House Speaker Pro-Tem Jeff Kaufmann said the pledge had "ridiculous implications", refused to sign, and told Plaats that his "integrity is in question" and "political credibility is waning to the point of no impact."[7]

Former Iowa State Senator Jeff Angelo said "This pledge is an attempt to shut down dialogue between voters and the people vying to represent them.".[8]

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney called the pledge "undignified and inappropriate." Romney's campaign later clarified that he would not sign because the preamble suggesting children of slaves were better off than today.[9]

Notable signatures

The 2 most notable signatures came from Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann. Rick Santorum was the first presidential candidate to contact The Family Leader after the organization publicly announced the pledge. Michele Bachmann also contacted The Family Leader to sign the pledge, and became the first Candidate to send her signed document to the organization.[2] Although Newt Gingrich did not sign the pledge, he wrote a lengthy letter in which he upheld many of the principles of the pledge including personal fidelity to his wife, respecting the marital bonds of others, enforcing the defense of marriage act, to support a federal marriage amendment, and to oppose any definition of marriage outside of "one man and one woman."[10] The pledge was also signed by former Texas governor Rick Perry.[11]


  1. ^ a b c "Marriage Vow" (PDF). The Family Leader. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b PETROSKI, WILLIAM (8 July 2011). "Santorum, Bachmann, sign Family Leader's marriage vow". DesMoines Register. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  3. ^ a b Johnson, Gary (19 July 2011). "A Republican Morality Play". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  4. ^ a b c "The Family Leader Drops Controversial Section Concerning Slavery From 'Marriage Vow' Pledge". The Huffington Post. 9 July 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  5. ^ MCMORRIS-SANTORO, EVAN (12 July 2011). "That Marriage Vow Guy Says He's No Sharia Expert But He Hates Sharia Anyway". The Talking Points Memo. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  6. ^ Vander Hart, Shane. "Bob Vander Plaats Responds to Critics of The FAMiLY Leader's "Marriage Vow"". Caffeinated Thoughts. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  7. ^ Clayworth, Jason (2011-07-27). "Presidential marriage pledge has 'ridiculous implications' GOP leader tells Vander Plaats". Des Moines Register. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  8. ^ "Update: Bachmann is first to sign Family Leader's pro-marriage pledge". Des Moines Register. 2011-07-07. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  9. ^ "Mitt Romney Not Signing Family Leader's 'Marriage Pledge'". Urban Christian News. 2011-07-13. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  10. ^ Falcone, Michael (12 December 2011). "Newt Gingrich Pledges 'Personal Fidelity to My Spouse'". ABC. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  11. ^ Travis, Shannon (21 November 2011). "Perry signs Family Leader's controversial marriage vow". CNN. Retrieved 19 March 2014.