Last week Rick Perry, said by all to be on the very brink of a presidential campaign, surprised most observers by not only shrugging off New York’s decision to legalize gay marriage, but suggesting people in other states ought to mind their own damn business:
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.
After a few days of squawking from Christian Right leaders, Perry decided to execute a full flip-flop in a venue most likely to be understood as a capitulation to his theocratic friends: a radio interview by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins. Get a load of this exchange after Perkins questioned Perry’s earlier statement:
GOV. PERRY: Let me just, I probably needed to add a few words after “that’s fine with me” its fine with me that the state is using their sovereign right to decide an issue. Obviously gay marriage is not fine with me, my stance had not changed. I believe marriage is a union between one man and one woman….
TONY PERKINS: But when you look at what’s happening on marriage, the real fear is that states like New York will change the definition of marriage for Texas. At that point the states rights argument is lost….
GOV. PERRY: Right and that is the reason that the federal marriage amendment is being offered, it’s that small group of activist judges, and frankly a small handful, if you will, of states, and liberal special interests groups that intend on a redefinition of, if you will, 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 not to have marriage forced upon us by these activist judges and special interest groups….
TONY PERKINS: Governor, we are about out of time but I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but I think I hear what you are saying. The support given what’s happening across the nation, the fear of the courts, the administration’s failure to defend the defense of marriage act.
The only and thin line of protection for those states that have defined marriage, that have been historically been defined between a man and a woman. The support of a marriage amendment is a pro-state’s rights position, because it will defend the rights of states to define marriage as it has been.
GOV. PERRY: Yes sir, and I have long supported the appointment of judges who respect the constitution and the passage of a federal marriage amendment. That amendment defines marriage between one man and one woman, and it protects the states from being told otherwise.
Pretty amazing, eh? You need a constitutional amendment to protect Texas’ right to tell New York it’s wrong on same-sex marriage, or something like that. Perkins’ assertion that “a marriage amendment is a pro-state’s rights position, because it will defend the rights of states to define marriage as it has been,” perfectly illustrates the instrumental attitude the Christian Right has towards the supposedly revered U.S. Constitution. They’ll toss it aside in a New York Minute if it gets in the way of achieving their objectives.
It’s kind of funny, if grotesque, to watch Perry anxiously negotiate his way through the humiliation and illogic of this blatant flip-flop under Perkins’ guidance. But it’s yet another reminder that those who think the Christian Right’s power in the Republican Party is a thing of the past really just aren’t paying much attention.