From bad to much, much worse

NOT LIKELY | Despite predictions by The Economist, if Texas Gov. Rick Perry decides to run for president, he may take a more moderate position on some issues, but he probably won’t move to the middle on LGBT issues.

If Rick Perry runs for president, he’s likely to move toward the middle, but not on LGBT issues

DAVID WEBB  |  The Rare Reproter

Just when I thought the social and political atmosphere couldn’t get any more depressing or bizarre than it already is, I witnessed Gov. Rick “Pretty Boy” Perry tell television reporters the other day he was thinking about running for president.

The governor followed that remark with the disclaimer that he tends to “think about a lot of things.” But if you ask me, he would probably have a difficult time proving that because everything that comes out of his mouth sounds like it’s been prepared by the Southern Baptist Convention’s advisory board.

But that could change according to The Economist, a weekly news and international affairs publication owned by a London-based publication that was founded more than a century and a half ago.

The Economist article speculated that if he ran for president, Perry would likely soften his stance against same-sex marriage, and that there really hadn’t been much of a debate about gay marriage in Texas.

It went on to say there hadn’t been a “serious effort” to legalize same-sex marriage or civil unions in Texas.

I had to reread that passage about three times to make sure that I really comprehended what I was reading. And when I was finally sure I was reading what I thought I was reading, it occurred to me The Economist staff must all be nuts and/or stoned.

The likelihood of the governor softening his stance on same-sex marriage is about as probable as him growing a ponytail and going skinny-dipping at Hippy Hollow on Lake Travis.

I think Perry probably shudders every time he remembers the rumors that spread across the country in 2004 that claimed he was a closet homosexual who had been caught in flagrante delicto by his wife, Anita, in the governor’s office with a high-ranking male public official.

That was the first time I was ever able to get Perry’s public relations office to return a call to the Dallas Voice after literally years of unsuccessful attempts. Soon after I left a message that I was writing about the widespread rumors, a spokesman quickly called me back to say the governor certainly was not a homosexual, had never been a homosexual and furthermore, never would be one.

The truth is that Perry has gone out of his way to offend the state’s LGBT community over the years:

He opposed the inclusion of sexual orientation in the state’s hate crime law. He told reporters he thought the state’s sodomy law was “appropriate” before it was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. He supported the passage of a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Texas. And he told a Fort Worth audience that gay and lesbian veterans returning from war should look for a more liberal state in which to live.

So to The Economist, I would have to say that I don’t think Perry is going to change his stance on same-sex marriage anytime soon, and that we have talked about same-sex marriage quite a bit in Texas, that we fought the passage of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage with everything we had and failed.

The reason we failed is that Texas is overpopulated by people who share the same ideology as Perry and keep voting him and other politicians like him into office. And what’s even scarier is that there are a whole lot of gay and lesbian voters and other socially liberal people who voted for Rick Perry.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. They don’t vote their consciences. They vote for what they consider is best for their pocketbooks.

I do think that if Perry were to run for president that he would attempt to move more to the middle from his current position on the far right. And it could work.

Former Texas Gov. George Bush was able to do it, and he even managed to convince a dozen or so LGBT political leaders that he would be gay-friendly.

Of course, we all know how it turned out with President Bush — very badly. But I don’t think things would turn out the same way with a President Rick Perry in the Oval Office — I think it would be much, much worse.

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

—  John Wright

The Economist predicts Rick Perry will soften his stance on gay marriage if he runs for president

Rick Perry

According to The Economist, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is about to pull a reverse Tom Leppert and get all lovey-dovey with the gays. Well, maybe not quite. But Perry is going to “think about” running for president, and if he does, conventional wisdom holds that he’ll have to appeal to “independents” — or at least the more moderate wing of the tea party. In other words, you can get elected and re-elected and re-elected governor of Texas as a radical gun-toting secessionist, but seriously, this is the presidency, so you might want to tone it down a notch. With that in mind, we’re pretty sure that if he runs, there are all sorts of issues on which Perry will backtrack. But is same-sex marriage really one of them? The Economist thinks so:

I’ll be watching to see if Mr Perry offers any further thoughts on foreign policy, and whether he weighs in on national controversies that have thus far passed over Texas. One to watch: gay marriage. Mr Perry is against it, but there hasn’t been much of a debate over it in Texas, which has seen no serious effort to legalise same-sex marriage or civil unions. And it’s an issue where the Republican primary voters differ from the emerging national majority in favour. If Mr Perry is happy being the governor, or just a national opposition figure, he’ll stick to his guns on the subject. If he’s looking to be president, I would expect a slightly hedged view: he might say that there’s already a federal law on the subject, for example, but that as a supporter of states’ rights he recognises their right to differ.

For one thing, it’s a little misleading to say that same-sex marriage has “passed over” Texas or that “there hasn’t been much debate over it.” Perry was governor in 2005, when he not only supported but championed the state’s constitutional amendment banning both same-sex marriage and civil unions. As Religion Dispatches noted recently, Perry even staged a ceremonial and totally unnecessary bill-signing ceremony for the amendment, with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Don Wildmon of the American Family Association in attendance.

Does this really sound like a man who believes same-sex marriage should be left up to the states? Moreover, what would Perry have to gain in a GOP primary — or even in the general election – by softening his stance on same-sex marriage? Maybe the Economist should stick to reporting on British politics.

—  John Wright