If you liked Bush, you’ll love Perry

Gov. Rick Perry and President George W. Bush are shown together in Austin in 2008. (Associated Press)

Anti-gay governor’s presidential bid is a nightmare, but sadly some in LGBT community will support him

DAVID WEBB  |  The Rare Reporter

Someone please shake me awake, because this must be a nightmare. That’s what I was thinking last weekend as I watched Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s announcing that he’s seeking the Republican Party’s nomination for president in 2012. The most outrageously outspoken anti-gay governor in the history of Texas has decided that he wants to take his act to Washington.

More than anything else, I’ve wanted to see a conclusion to Perry’s seemingly unending, tyrannical reign over Texas politics, but this is not what I had in mind.

The scariest part is that I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Perry snatches the Republican nomination away from current GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney — and anyone else who is eyeing the spot. The only scenario that could make the situation any worse would be Perry naming his buddy Sarah Palin as a running mate.

My guess is that Perry and his team feel pretty confident.

This is a career politician who, in addition to being the longest-serving governor, has never lost an election since he entered politics as a state legislator in 1984.
During his announcement speech in South Carolina, Perry focused on economics and steered clear of social issues, but we all know where he stands on LGBT equality.

He is adamantly opposed to it, just as he is to a woman’s right to choose.

The week before his announcement, Perry held a rally in Houston to pray away the nation’s problems. As the poster boy for evangelical Christians, Perry has made it clear he’ll do that group’s bidding if he goes to Washington.

In his speech he only referred to overturning President Barack Obama’s health care plan, but anyone who thinks he wouldn’t target every other progressive measure approved in the last three years is in for a big shock. As a former Air Force pilot and Texas A&M cadet yell leader, he no doubt bristled when “don’t ask, don’t tell” was repealed.

What makes Perry particularly dangerous to the LGBT community is the rumor that he once was sexually involved with other men in Austin. The rumor has plagued his career, although he appears to have convinced his conservative religious base that it’s untrue. Perry may view anti-gay rhetoric as a way of combating the rumor.

Gay activists and journalists from the national media are combing through Perry’s past at this moment to determine if there is any truth to the rumor, but I suspect they are coming up empty-handed.

I recently wrote that I didn’t think there was any truth to the rumor, and I received quite a few
emails from gay Texans telling me I was wrong. I spoke with one of them on the phone who told me that a married, closeted male legislator had allegedly told several people that he had been involved sexually with Perry.

The biggest problem with the story is that the former legislator has credibility problems. On top of that, I understand that he now denies having ever been involved with Perry.

The only other incident possibly involving homosexuality is a story about Perry and another Boy Scout in Haskell County being caught in a sleeping bag together on a camping trip. That was when Perry, now 61, was about 10, and he reportedly got into the sleeping bag of a 12-year-old because he was cold. The two reportedly slept “back to back” during the night.

The Scoutmaster reportedly raised a fuss about the innocent incident when he discovered the two boys together the next morning, so that could possibly help explain some of Perry’s aversion to anything related to LGBT people. Such a scolding at that early of an age could have made a strong impression on our presidential hopeful.

I had also heard that Perry was seen in the late 1980s in an Austin gay disco called the Boat House, but I have a little trouble believing that as well.

Perry has clearly been motivated all of his life to succeed and overcome his humble beginnings, and that has involved a lot of macho posturing. In my opinion he would never have made an appearance at a gay bar, even if he was bi-curious and experimenting a little bit.

Unless someone has some compromising pictures of Perry or someone credible comes forward to acknowledge a same-sex relationship with the governor, I don’t think that story is going anywhere.

There are plenty of tales out there about Perry and wild youthful antics before he was married, but those are of no consequence in 2011, as a veteran politician
pointed out to me recently. Hypocrisy equals zilch in terms of derailing a presidential bid in today’s world.

In fact, I’m confident many LGBT voters will support Perry for president. It’s a curious phenomenon that I’ve seen time and time again. Politicians can spout anti-gay rhetoric from dawn to dusk, and many members of our community will still vote for them.

To those people I would say, if you liked having George W. Bush in the White House, you no doubt would love seeing James Richard “Rick” Perry in the Oval Office.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. Email him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.

—  John Wright

Southern Baptist leader says divorce rates, not gay marriage, should be primary concern

Albert Mohler

R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

Last week Mohler wrote on his website, “When the Christian right was organized in the 1970s and galvanized in the 1980s, the issues of abortion and homosexuality were front and center. Where was divorce?”

He calls divorce a “tragedy that affects far more families than the more ‘hot button’ issues” such as same-sex marriage. While LGBT groups have been wondering for years how marriage equality affects anyone else at all, it is amazing for someone who is so prominent in the religious right to admit that anything else might be more important. For the first time, there is an admission that maybe they should be watching what they do before criticizing everyone else.

Mohler even admitted that evangelical Christians divorce at a higher rate than the rest of the general population. However, he didn’t go so far as to admit that the lowest divorce rate is among gays and lesbians who have married.

In fact, the lowest divorce rate is in Massachusetts. Other states with low divorce rates are Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and New York — the states that allow same-sex marriage or recognize marriages performed elsewhere.

The states with the highest divorce rates are all red. Nevada, famous for honoring the sanctity of marriage with its drive-thru wedding chapels, also tops the list for drive-thru divorces. The rest of the states topping the divorce list are all in the Bible Belt.

Texas tops the list of states with the highest number of residents who’ve been married three or more times.

Mohler said, “Our credibility on the issue of marriage is significantly discounted by our acceptance of divorce. To our shame, the culture war is not the only place that an honest confrontation with the divorce culture is missing.”

I doubt anything will happen as a result of Mohler’s self-reflective column, though. It’s so much easier to bully others.

—  David Taffet