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Gingrich believes in open marriage - do you?

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich

JEFF HAYNES/REUTERS

It turns out the wronged party in Newt Gingrich's second marriage wasn't his wife Marianne, whom the Republican presidential candidate left shortly after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, but, according to Rush Limbaugh, Mr. Gingrich himself.

The former Mrs. Gingrich is giving her first interview since the couple parted ways in 1999, and politicos are already buzzing about her revelation that Mr. Gingrich had asked her for an open marriage so that he could continue, in good conscience, his six-year affair with Callista Bisek, who he married in 2000. Or, as one Twitter commentator put it, it turns out Mr. Gingrich believes "in the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, and a woman."

Being the standup guy he is, he also gave Marianne the option of a divorce. And he made his sales pitch over the telephone, ostensibly not to be a downer at her mother's 84th birthday party. Days later, he delivered a speech about character and leadership to the Republican Women Leaders Forum.

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"How could he ask me for a divorce on Monday and within 48 hours give a speech on family values and talk about how people treat people?" Marianne told the Washington Post, explaining why she had chosen to break her silence now that Mr. Gingrich is surging in the polls.

According to Mr. Limbaugh – whose four wives would surely attest to his knowledge of marital bliss – Mr. Gingrich is the injured party in all this. "I got a great note from a friend of mine," he said today on his radio program "So Newt wanted an open marriage. BFD. At least he asked his wife for permission instead of cheating on her. That's a mark of character, in my book. Newt's a victim. We all are. Ours is the horniest generation."

Open-minded columnist Dan Savage thinks Mr. Gingrich, a self-styled devout Southern Baptist who converted to Catholicism in 2009, is giving "monogamish" relationships – negotiated non-monogamous ones – a bad name. "Technically you're not asking your wife for an open marriage if you've already been [intimate with]another woman for six years," he wrote on his blog. "You're presenting your wife with an ultimatum. That doesn't make you a proponent of open marriage, Newt, it makes you a CPOS."

Is Mr. Gingrich a misunderstood man of character or an unrepentant horn dog? What do you think about monogamish relationships?

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About the Author

Shelley Youngblut is the Western Editor of The Globe and Mail (and the mother of identical twins). The former editor of Calgary’s award-winning Swerve magazine, she is a veteran of ESPN the Magazine, and has commented on pop culture on ABC, CTV and CBC Radio. More

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