Purity pledge raises S.C. GOP's hackles

March 6, 2012 at 9:17 AM
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COLUMBIA, S.C., March 6 (UPI) -- A South Carolina county Republican Party's resolution that GOP candidates sign a so-called purity pledge was branded as illegal by state Republican officials.

The Laurens County Republican Party passed the resolution last month stating that candidates running in the June 12 Republican state primary pledge they did not engage in premarital sex, will be faithful to their spouses, will not watch pornographic material and will fight for gun rights, The State in Columbia, S.C., reported Tuesday.

South Carolina's presidential primary was Jan. 21.

Laurens County Republican Party Chairman Bobby Smith said Monday no one would be denied a spot on the primary ballot for failing to sign the pledge.

"The purpose of the resolution was to try to ensure that candidates who wish to file to run on the ticket simply support the party's platform," Smith said. "Our party has had much success over the past few years, and we want to make sure they uphold the party's principles if running on the party's ticket."

State Republican officials told The State the pledge is illegal and can't enforced.

"The state party does not endorse this action, and no county party can legally keep a qualified candidate off the ballot," said Matt Moore, executive director of the S.C. Republican Party.

Besides, the resolution doesn't mesh with the state party's goals, Moore said.

"These kinds of purity tests are at odds with our long-term strategy of being a dominant party," Moore said. "We've got to be for limited government, less taxes. That's what our platform is about."

Phil Bailey, director of the state Senate Democratic Caucus, called the pledge "absolutely absurd.

"While the rest of the country is living in the 21st century," Baily said, "South Carolina Republicans are stuck in a social time machine."

Among other things, the 28-point pledge also requires candidates to oppose abortion in all instances, endorse balanced budgets on the state and federal level and not favor government action concerning same-sex marriages or civil unions.

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