On Thursday we told you about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s big flip-flop on same-sex marriage.
Last week, speaking to a group of GOP donors in Aspen, Colo., Perry said New York’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage was “fine” with him because he believes marriage is an issue that should be decided by the states — and not the federal government — under the 10th amendment.
Perry’s comments in Aspen landed him in hot water with social conservatives who’ve historically been among his biggest supporters.
Then, on Thursday, Perry attempted to backtrack during a radio interview with Tony Perkins, president of the anti-gay Family Research Council. Perry declared that “gay marriage is not fine with me” and expressed strong support for a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
Perry, a likely GOP presidential candidate, maintains that his position hasn’t changed, and that his support for a federal amendment is still in line with states’ rights, because three-fourths of states would have to ratify it. But we’ll let you decide for yourselves after listening to his comments on both occasions.
Above is video of Perry’s comments last week in Aspen at a forum that featured several Republican governors. Perry’s comments about marriage begin just after the 30-minute mark, when the moderator asks him what he thinks about cyclist Lance Armstrong, an Aspen resident, and the issue of stem cell research. Perry ignores the stem cell research question and chooses to focus instead on the FDA’s investigation of doping allegations against Armstrong, citing the probe as an example of Washington’s overreach. Here’s a transcript of Perry’s response:
“The fact of the matter is our federal government is engaged in way too many things that they shouldn’t be involved with at all,” Perry said. “The idea that they’re telling us how to deliver health care, the idea that they’re telling us how to educate our children, the idea that they’re telling [New Mexico Gov. Susan Martinez] how to build transportation infrastructure in her state, is just completely and absolutely out of the main line thought of our founding fathers. They had no preception of what that would look like 200 years [ago], but they knew that they wanted to enumerate.
“The 10th amendment clearly states that the powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution nor prohibited to it by the states, are reserved to the states,” Perry said. “The simplicity and the eloquence of that is so powerful. The idea that the federal government is telling us how to deal with issues that we ought to be.
“[Virginia Gov.] Bob [McDonnell] and I are social conservatives,” Perry said. “I am an unapologetic social conservative. I’m pro-life, I’m pro-traditional marriage, and the fact is we passed a constitutional amendment, and it passed by 77 percent of the vote in the state of Texas. Our friends in New York, six weeks ago, passed a statute that said 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 ame3ndment, stay out of their business if you live in some other state or particularly if you’re the federal government. The idea, the idea that the FDA is spending your tax money going after Lance Armstrong for something someone said he did in France is an absolute atrocity.”
Now for the audio of Perry’s remarks on Thursday, when he was questioned by Perkins about his widely reported comments in Aspen:
And here’s a transcript:
“I probably needed to add a few words after that ‘it’s fine with me’ — it’s fine with me that a state is using their sovereign rights to decide an issue,” Perry told Perkins. “Obviously gay marriage is not fine with me. My stance hasn’t changed. I believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and my record as governor of Texas reflects a very strong commitment to defending traditional marriage, including those efforts to pass the Texas Defense of Marriage Act, which — you were at some of those events where we were promoting the people of the state of Texas to go and defend traditional marriage. And I might add that it overwhelmingly was adopted by 75 percent of Texas voters. My comment reflects my recognition that marriage and most issues of the family have historically been decided by the people at the state and local level, and that is absolutely the state of law under our Constitution.”
Perkins then asked Perry whether that wouldn’t lead to states like New York imposing same-sex marriage on Texas.
“Right, and that is the reason that the Federal Marriage Amendment is being offered,” Perry said. “It’s a small group of activist judges and frankly a small handful, if you will, of states and these liberal special interest groups that are intent on a redefinition, if you will, of marriage on the nation, for all of us, which I adamantly oppose. Indeed, to not pass the Federal Marriage Amendment, would impinge on Texas and other states’ right not to have marriage forced upon them by these activist judges and these special interest groups. Our Constitution was designed to respect states, including the amendment process.”
“That’s one of the beauties of our — and why I talk about in my book Fed Up that we need to as a nation get back to really respecting our Constitution and the 10th amendment in particular, which allows the states to compete against each other, whether it’s on taxes or regulations or litigation, and create the economic environment. But the overall constitutional protection, if you will, by and how we amend our United States Constitution to reflect the values of this nation as a whole, is very important. The balanced budget amendment [is] another one of those with all this debt ceiling talk going on right now, the balanced budget amendment and clearly telling the people in Washington, ‘Look, you’re spending too much money, and one of the ways that we protect [against] your human nature, which is to say yes to special interest groups, is to prohibit you from doing that by passing a balanced budget amendment.’ I hope we’ll do that, and I hope we’ll also pass a federal marriage amendment as well.”
Perkins then asks Perry whether a federal marriage amendment wouldn’t actually be in line with states’ rights because they’d have to ratify it.
“Yes sir, yes sir, yes sir,” Perry responded. “And I have long supported the appointment of judges who respect the Constitution and the passage of a federal marriage amendment. That amendment, as you well know, defines marriage as between one man and one woman, and it protects the states from being told otherwise, and it respects the right of the people in the states by requiring that three-quarters of the states vote to ratify. So it’s really strong medicine, but again, our founding fathers had such great wisdom, and their wisdom is just as clear and profound today as it was back in the late 18th century.”