"Rick Perry gay" was among more than 2,200 hidden phrases discovered last month on a Web site belonging to the campaign of U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
The hidden phrases, not visible on the site but embedded in its source code, reportedly were generated by a computer calculating popular Web searches that included the terms, "Kay Bailey Hutchison," "Rick Perry" and "Texas." The hidden phrases were intended to monitor traffic coming to the Web site, www.standbykay.com, so the campaign could determine where to place banner ads. Perry has long been the subject of gay rumors, explaining the popularity of the Web search.
After the hidden phrases were discovered, the Hutchison campaign promptly removed "Rick Perry gay" and later severed ties with the Web consulting firm responsible for the hidden phrases.
The discovery also led to the site being blocked from recognition by both Google and Yahoo, because the presence of hidden phrases violates the search engines’ policies.
One political expert suggested it may be the last time we hear the word "gay" during the Republican gubernatorial primary, because LGBT issues are too volatile for the candidates to broach publicly.
But the candidates’ responses to the hidden phrases incident appeared to be a reflection of their negative stances toward LGBT equality.
A Perry spokesman called the "Rick Perry gay" phrase "repugnant and slanderous," according to The Austin American-Statesman, the newspaper that discovered the phrases.
A Hutchison spokesman responded by saying, "We did not know these offensive word associations were being searched for by hundreds of thousands of Texans every day, nor do we condone the computer-generated existence on our Web site."
— John WrightThis article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 14, 2009.