The National Organization for Marriage, the pre-eminent pro-family organization in the United States, announced Wednesday it has decided to put its weight behind a Republican presidential candidate.
"The decision to endorse in the Republican primary race was a very difficult one," NOM President Brian Brown said. "There are many tremendous candidates remaining who have made support for marriage a pillar of their careers in public service."
Earlier this year, the organization issued a Presidential Marriage Pledge to all the Republican candidates for president, asking them to commit to take five specific actions as president, including working to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's narrow ruling redefining marriage, a ruling that dozens of legal scholars have called "illegitimate" and "anti-constitutional." Those signing it were U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
While not signing NOM's pledge, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee issued his own pledge to the American people to fight for marriage. The organization also noted that U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has "spoken out powerfully" in his campaign in support of marriage.
Ultimately, the organization chose to back Cruz, which Brown called "a proven champion" in support of marriage and religious liberty. Brown said Cruz was someone he could "absolutely count on" to fight to restore the sanctity of marriage.
"Sen. Cruz has not only signed NOM's presidential marriage pledge committing to take specific actions as president, but he has personally authored the pending federal marriage amendment to restore the right of states to define marriage as one man/one woman," Brown said. "Moreover, he has spoken out consistently and forcefully on the campaign trail as an advocate of true marriage. We are pleased to endorse him and will do everything in our power to support his election."
NOM has a long track record of activism in support of traditional marriage across the country, and especially in key early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire, where they have tens of thousands of supporters. The group was a principal player in the successful 2010 effort to remove three sitting Iowa Supreme Court Justices, including the state's Chief Justice and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in that successful effort.
"Beginning in Iowa, and going on from there, we will do everything in our power to support Sen. Cruz and urge all our supporters to coalesce around his candidacy," Brown said. "It is imperative that a proven marriage champion emerge from Iowa and go on to capture the Republican nomination. Too much is on the line for supporters of marriage to sit on the sidelines and take the risk that the Republican nominee is someone who will not fight to restore marriage to the law in our nation. We are at a historic moment, and we urge all conservatives to unite behind Sen. Ted Cruz, a man of principle we can all count on to give his all to the cause of marriage and religious freedom."
Although NOM is backing Cruz for the remainder of the Republican presidential primary race, the organization pledged it would support Santorum, Huckabee, Carson or Rubio, should one of them become the eventual GOP nominee. But, it echoed Cruz' call that conservatives unite behind a single candidate.
"[T]here is a real danger that conservatives will split the vote, allowing someone like Donald Trump to emerge from the crowded field, which would be disastrous," Brown said. "Sen. Cruz has run the best campaign thus far, racking up endorsements and financial resources and climbing in the polls. We believe he has the best chance of uniting conservatives and going on to win the nomination."
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