Right Turn reported on Friday that Texas Gov. Rick Perry tried to extricate himself from a kerfuffle over gay marriage after he previously said this was an issue for the states. His qualification seemed to please some social conservative leaders. Gary Bauer, one of the highest-profile Christian conservative leaders, wrote Friday in his daily e-mail sent out to his followers and other conservative subscribers:
Wednesday I took Texas Governor Rick Perry to task for his comment that he was “fine” with same-sex “marriage” in New York, even though he and the overwhelming majority of Texans oppose same-sex “marriage.” The problem with Perry’s “state’s rights” argument is that the militant homosexual rights movement has no intention of allowing each state to define marriage for itself.
In fact, the attorney general of New York this week filed a lawsuit seeking to have the Defense of Marriage Act declared unconstitutional. If that happens, Texas will be forced to recognize the “gay marriages” performed in New York. So much for states’ rights and the Tenth Amendment.
I’m pleased to report that Governor Perry clarified his remarks this week in an interview with my good friend Tony Perkins. During the interview, he made it clear he recognizes the threat that legalized same-sex “marriage” in New York poses to the traditional definition of marriage in Texas.
Moreover, Perry expressed his support for a federal marriage protection amendment, adding, “Indeed to not pass the federal marriage amendment would impinge on Texas, and other states not to have [same-sex] marriage forced upon us by these activist judges and special interest groups.”
But Perry’s backtrack annoyed some in the party who saw this as waffling. Margaret Hoover, who originally praised Perry and who argues that the party will lose young voters with an anti-gay-rights message, e-mailed me, “As long as his stance hasn’t changed from being an ardent 10th amendment supporter, he can be personally opposed to same sex marriage, but still support states rights.” She cautioned against Perry muddying the waters by cheering for a federal constitutional amendment: “Perry should leave it where it is — and not go further to support a federal marriage amendment (that’s so 2004).”
You see the difficulty. If Perry holds to his principles on the 10th Amendment eventually he will be at loggerheads with social conservatives who want not simply want his personal opposition but also his support for restrictions on the spread of gay marriage. If he deviates from his “let states do what they may” position he’ll have a flip-flop problem and potentially lose younger and more libertarian voters. This is the sort of issue over which pols who lack experience in a national race can stumble. It should serve as a warning to Perry to figure out exactly how he is going to address and communicate on dozens and dozens of issues, some of which (e.g. foreign policy) he has never faced before.