Gov. Rick Perry declined to come out against New York’s recent passage of marriage equality over the weekend, claiming it’s a policy states have the right to decide on their own — a stance that could alienate evangelical voters in the run-up to his possible presidential campaign.
“Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex,” Perry said during a fundraising event in Aspen, Colo. “And you know what? That’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me. That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business.”
Salon reported the comments ignited a harsh response from GOP presidential runner Rick Santorum via Twitter: “So Gov Perry, if a state wanted to allow polygamy or if they chose to deny heterosexuals the right to marry, would that be OK too?”
Kathryn Lopez of the National Review also sounded off on Perry, Salon notes:
I realize that Rick Perry is a big state’s rights’ guy, but that is a fascinatingly shocking thing for someone supposedly running for the Republican nomination to say, and the weekend a new definition of marriage debuted in the state of New York. Seems to be conflict with the idea that he would be an obvious choice for social conservatives.
Not all conservatives bashed Perry for his comments. Conservative Washington Post writer Jennifer Rubin described the governor’s position as not only “practical” but “intellectually consistent,” in line with his firm stance to abide by 10th Amendment/state’s rights.
But the harshest critics of the New York vote may ironically be Perry’s new and controversial prayer partners — the Christian conservative American Family Association, designated an anti-gay “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its promotion of false, anti-gay propaganda. Recently joining forces with the staunchly anti-LGBT organization for an all-day Houston prayer and fasting event on Aug. 6, Perry has been asked to defend some extreme comments made by AFA leadership. But now the tables may have turned.
AFA’s central mission is to combat the “homosexual agenda,” leading boycotts and campaigns against openly gay members of public office and companies that in anyway side with the LGBT community, in AFA’s eyes. Now, AFA, in the midst of an attack on Home Depot for its support for the New York marriage equality bill, may need to defend Perry.
AFA president Tim Wildmon has called homosexual behavior “immoral, unnatural and unhealthy,” while AFA’s director of issue analysis and talk radio host, Bryan Fischer argues homosexuality is responsible for the Nazi Party and likens the “risks” and “dangers” of homosexuality to drug use, the Texas Independent previously reported. Fischer also contends gay rights and religious liberty cannot coexist and is a supporter of ex-gay therapy.
In a post titled “Homosexuality, Hitler and ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,’” Fischer wrote:
Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews. Gays in the military is an experiment that has been tried and found disastrously and tragically wanting. Maybe it’s time for Congress to learn a lesson from history.
In a phone interview today, Fischer said Perry’s comments were a missed opportunity to elaborate on the threat of marriage equality.
“Gov. Perry himself is unapologetic in his support for natural marriage. We appreciate that he signed a symbolic measure to protect marriage in the Texas constitution,” Fischer told the Texas Independent. “But perhaps he missed an opportunity here for him to stress the importance of natural marriage and the negative consequences for children when same-sex marriages are legitimized.”
As for Perry’s 10th Amendment defense, Fischer argues comprehensive, national marriage legislation would bridge discord among individual state’s rights.
“I think when it comes to issues of state’s rights, we need to enact a pro-family federal marriage amendment to unify marriage policy for the whole country,” Fischer added. “This would be the ultimate expression of state’s rights — as voters in 38 other states must agree with you.”
Earlier this month Alex McFarland of the AFA said that Perry’s event is more necessary than ever, after New York’s passage of the marriage equality bill. On his radio show, McFarland — who believes homosexuality is “a learned response to emotional pain and sometimes molestation,” — said that the vote was a warning sign for the nation, according to a Right Wing Watch blog post, “righteousness exalts a nation, lifts up a nation, blesses a people, but sin is a reproach, and literally means an undoing, and we need to pray and I thank Governor Perry and all leaders that are gutsy enough and courageous enough to say, ‘We admit it, we need to turn back to God.’”
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected from an earlier version, which misquoted Bryan Fischer’s remarks on the number of states required to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.Tags: 10th amendment, alex mcfarland, American Family Association, Bryan Fischer, kathryn lopez, Marriage Equality, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, the response