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.