Texas Governor Rick Perry said that he favors letting states decide whether or not to allow gay marriage, a remark that could have repercussions for a possible presidential bid.
“Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you 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 Amendment, stay out of their business,” Perry said at an event held by the Aspen Institute in Aspen, Colo., on Friday.
Those who favor giving states authority over the federal government often cite the 10th Amendment to the Constitution in defense of their position. It says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Perry was also referencing New York state's recently passed law allowing gay marriage. The law goes into effect on Sunday.
Perry is widely expected to announce sometime mid-August that he will seek to become the next Republican nominee for President of the United States. Social conservatives were expected to be an important bloc of support for Perry. This announcement, however, throws that common wisdom into question.
There were some media reports that Christian Right leaders have been encouraging Perry to run and offered their support if he did. Some of those reports were false, however. Perry's support among Christian Right leaders may not be as broad as these media reports claimed.
A July 5 Time article reported that there was a conference call of Christian Right leaders who were discussing lending their support to Perry. David Barton, who writes history books about the United States' founding for a mostly evangelical audience, and Texas Pastor John Hagee, were reportedly on the call. Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, was originally reported as being in the discussions, but he was not there. Time issued a correction.
A July 16 article in the Wall Street Journal reported a separate, but similar, conference call that included Perkins, Barton, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President Richard Land, Gary Bauer (former head of the Family Research Council and presidential candidate in 2000), and David Lane, a conservative activist and preacher. The Wall Street Journal originally reported that these men were urging Perry to enter the race. Perkins and Land both issued press releases, however, saying this is not true.
Perkins said, “Several media outlets have incorrectly reported that I have made an endorsement in the presidential race or that I am pushing Governor Rick Perry to join the race.... I do not see my role – or the role of FRC Action – as backing a presidential candidate at this point, if ever.”
Land's press release similarly read, “I made it categorically clear to Mr. [Neil] King [the Wall Street Journal Reporter who wrote the story] that I do not endorse candidates, and I have not and will not endorse Gov. Perry or any other candidate for that matter.”
The Wall Street Journal has corrected what they wrote about Dr. Land, but not what they wrote about Mr. Perkins.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America said that her organization has also not thrown their support behind Perry or any other candidate. “It's too early to pick winners and losers,” Nance said.
Presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum was the first to criticize Perry for his position on gay marriage. “So Gov Perry, if a state wanted to allow polygamy or if they chose to deny heterosexuals the right to marry, would that be OK too?,” Santorum wrote on his Twitter feed.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), another presidential candidate, has said that she supports the state of New York's right to decide the issue of gay marriage for themselves, but would also support a marriage amendment to the United States Constitution that would define marriage as between one man and one woman for all 50 states.
A loss of support among social conservatives would likely hurt Perry's chances to do well in certain states, such as Iowa and South Carolina. His more liberal position may help him, however, in states that allow independents to vote, such as New Hampshire. Perry may also be positioning himself as a more viable candidate for the general election by taking a more liberal stance on gay marriage.
While Perry has a reputation as a strong conservative, this would not be the first time that Perry has taken a more moderate or liberal position on an issue.
Perry has been more liberal on immigration than most Republicans. He supports, for instance, reforms similar to those promoted by former President George W. Bush which would allow a path to citizenship for current undocumented persons in the United States. The Christian Post recently reported that, due to this stance, among others, Perry would likely gather the most support among Latinos of any other Republican candidate. Latino support would help Perry more in a general election against President Obama, however, than in the nominating elections.
Perry was also a Democrat in the 1980s and served as the state chairman for former Vice President Al Gore's presidential race in 1988. This issue will surely be raised by other Republican candidates, along with his stances on immigration and (now) gay marriage, if Perry were to enter the race for President.
Of the known presidential candidates, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson also support letting states decide the gay marriage issue.
Interview requests sent by The Christian Post to Gary Bauer and John Hagee regarding their support for Rick Perry have not been returned. An earlier request sent to David Barton on the same topic was declined.