Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney refused once again to appease the social conservative bloc, refusing to sign a pro-marriage pledge that generated controversy for language, since removed, that appeared to endorse slavery.

The pledge, circulated by the conservative Christian organization Family Leader, urges candidates to reject same-sex marriage, condemn pornography and foreswear Sharia Law. Romney had previously refused to sign a pledge known as the Susan B. Anthony List that affirmed opposition to abortion.

A Romney campaign spokesperson told The Associated Press that Romney supports traditional marriage but believed the Family Leader pledge contained references and provisions that were undignified and inappropriate for a presidential campaign. That was likely a reference to not only the current language of the oath but a now eliminated passage -- present when Michele Bachmann signed -- noting that 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,

Romney is the first candidate to explicitly reject the oath -- Bachmann and Rick Santorum have signed it, while others have remained silent. His decision reflects a strategy less focused on the social issues informing the early Iowa caucus, with its large base of evangelical voters, than on his message of economic stewardship.