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JUNE 10, 2005
Singing the right
notes for the choir
Looking for motive in Gov. Rick Perry's signing of
anti-gay and anti-abortion legislation last Sunday
at an evangelical Christian school in Fort Worth
By BINNIE FISHER
HE INK HAD BARELY
dried on the signatures Gov.
Rick Perry affixed to two
pieces of legislation last
Sunday — one of them a
amendment banning gay
marriage and civil unions - and speculators began reasoning why he chose to
stage the signing ceremony at an evangelical Christian school.
The most common reasoning was that
he was playing to his base, died-in-the-
wool conservative Christians who oppose
same-sex marriage and abortion, the subject of the other piece of legislation.
The head of an organization working
toward equality for gays and lesbians
had another thought. Maybe Perry
wanted to upstage a potential opponent
in the race for the 2006 Republican
U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison would
be a formidable opponent for Perry,
whose approval ratings of late have not
been exactly stellar.
Although legislation to require girls
under 18 to gain parental consent
before getting an abortion needed
Perry's signature, the amendment to
ban gay marriage that will be presented
to voters in November did not need the
governor's John Henry.
But, signing those documents surrounded by other conservative
Republican legislators and evangelical Christians made for the kind of
photos that should appeal to Perry's
Perry's spokesperson said there would
be complaints regardless of where Perry
chose to sign the bills, and she shrugged
off the 100-member opposition that gathered outside the school carrying signs
about separation of church and state.
It was all so perfect for Perry. And
when asked what he would say to gay veterans coming home from Iraq regarding
the marriage amendment, the governor
suggested that if they don't like the laws
in Texas, they should find another state
in which to live.
That statement was denounced by gay
activists from around the country, but it
was likely applauded by those who gathered at the school for the signing.
They're all for helping returning veterans and displaying those yellow ribbons
on their cars, but that's for heterosexual
veterans. Gay veterans can go to wherever. Hell, maybe.
IT WAS SUCH A NASTY THING TO
say that one has to wonder if perhaps
there was a motive beyond grandstanding
or singing to the choir or even upstaging
Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Thinking back, what in Rick Perry's
not-too-distant past might prompt him
to disassociate himself from gays to
the extent that he would suggest gay
veterans coming home from Iraq not
come back to Texas?
Ah yes, there were those rumors early
in 2004. They were nasty little rumors
about Perry and another male employed
at the capitol that began being e-mailed
around the state early last year.
At one point, a group of demonstrators gathered outside the Governor's
Mansion wielding signs with slogans like,
"It's OK to be gay."
A story in the Austin Chronicle mentioned the rumors but also indicated
that no real evidence existed to substantiate them.
At the time. Perry's spokesperson,
Kathy Walt, dismissed the rumors this
way, "These are false, malicious and hurtful rumors, and the Chronicle's own
investigation acknowledges that fact."
Perry and wife, Anita, denied the
rumors in an interview with an Austin
television station. The rumblings eventually quieted.
The point to be made here is that
whether there was any truth to the
rumors, publicly denouncing gays in a
ceremony at a Christian school might be
considered preventative medicine.
Fear causes us to run as fast as possible from that which worries us the most.
A perfect example is Alan Keyes, the
Republican candidate for U.S. Senate who
lost in 2004 to Democrat Barack Obama.
Keyes is adamant in voicing his opposition to gays. He has a lesbian daughter.
And then there's the mayor of
Spokane, Wash., Jim West. Could there
have been a more vocal opponent of equal
rights for gays and lesbians? After an
investigation by the Spokesman Review,
the mayor admitted recently that he'd
had sex with men.
In his zeal to prevent such rumors
from surfacing, as a state legislator he
backed an unsuccessful measure to
ban gays and lesbians from working in
schools day care centers and some
As the incoming mayor of Spokane, he
opposed offering domestic partner benefits to City Hall workers.
This is not to suggest that the
rumors about Perry were true. But,
let's face it, those rumors could do
some damage should they surface again
just in time for what is shaping up to be
a hard-fought campaign to remain as
governor of Texas.
Maybe snuggling up to the base and
letting them know that you really are
opposed to equal rights for gays and lesbians is a good thing. Signing a piece of
legislation that doesn't need your signature, well, that's just icing on the
Binnie Fisher is
editor of the
Houston Voice. She
can be reached at