4 JUNE 17,2005
www.houstonvoice.com HOUSTON VOICE
I local news
Perry's gay comments ranckle activists
PERRY, continued from Page 1
a sophisticated campaign to bring out his
religious right base in the 2006 primary to
beat his most likely — and formidable —
opponent, U.S. Senator Kay Bailey
And the sum total impact of Perry's
recent moves also served to bury longstanding gay rumors that forced the governor to hold an unusual press conference
last spring reaffirming his heterosexuality
Just this past month, Perry told a
reporter that gay veterans might want to
move out of state if they don't like Texas
laws. He also signed an anti-gay marriage
amendment bill — which did not require
his signature — in an evangelical
Christian school, flanked by preachers.
A spokesperson for Hutchison's campaign, Terry Sullivan, said the senator has
not made a decision on her candidacy for
governor yet. He would not comment on
the location of the bill signing at the evangelical school but said Hutchison agrees
with the legislation signed there.
Perry could not be reached for comment.
Dr. Robert Stein, dean of Social Sciences
at Rice University in Houston, said that
Perry's popularity rating is probably below
50 percent. But an opinion poll is far different
from an election — especially a primary in
Republican primaries in Texas, according to several experts contacted for this article, tend to bring out the most conservative
voters. Stein said that between 30 and 40 percent of Republican primary voters are social
conservatives. To many, the Perry campaign
strategy appears to be to cast Hutchison, an
extremely popular politician, as a moderate.
Calls to Perry's office were not returned.
"[Perry] can hold a majority of a small
plurality," Stein said. If Hutchison wins
the primary, he hypothesized, she could
"win the general election easily."
The Texas election will act as a test case
for other Republicans to see if the party
has moved too far to the right, Stein said.
if Hutchison wins the race, it shows
[Senate Majority Leader Bill] Frist —
what you're doing doesn't work," he said.
There is a reactionary tendency among
Republican primary voters, agreed Jim
Dallas, who runs the Texas political site,
www.BurntOrangeReport.com. "There's a
method to the madness," he said.
"If it was an open primary [Bailey] would
win in a walk," he said "fRepublican primary voters] are not just average 'red state'
Bush people. They're a whole different
But the strategy could backfire if he
ft MORE INFO
Texas Freedom Network
P.O. Box 1624
Austin, TX 78767
Gov. Rick Perry uses the backdrop of a Fort Worth Christian school to put his signature to a bill that will advance the issue of same-sex marriage and civil unions to
the statewide ballot in November. (Photo courtesy of the Associated Press)
gets too extreme, said Dallas, who is supporting the likely Democratic challenger,
Dan Quinn, spokesperson for the Texas
Freedom Network, said Perry's election
campaign has national repercussions. It is
part of a coordinated campaign to elect candidates supported by evangelical Christians
across the country. Central to this network
are state-based evangelical, conservative
organizations called Restoration Projects
that mobilize right-wing voters, Quinn said.
As reported on Houston's KHOU,
Channel 11, Texas preachers have recently
developed their own Restoration Project.
According to KHOU, 800 ministers will
work on the Restoration's get out the vote
drive in Texas.
"We have never seen such a sophisticated, such a broad effort by a political candidate in this state to pander to religious
conservatives," Quinn said.
The election of Bush provided a model
for how it can be done successfully, Quinn
said. And, as Rep. Garnet Coleman (D)
noted, if Perry is successful in Texas then
his strategy may be duplicated elsewhere.
The gay marriage referendum is another
piece of the strategy Quinn said. It's a way
to identify voters and donors who Perry can
pursue for the primary race, he said.
"Do I want a governor who is willing to
sacrifice [gays and lesbians] on an altar of
fundamentalist Christianity in order to
win an election?" he said. "The governor
is willing to stab [gay veterans] in the back
to pander to the religious right."
State Representative Senfronia
Thompson, (D), said she was not surprised
by Perry's recent actions even though when
he began his political career he had "some
degree of humanity"
Perry, originally a Democrat, was a
legislator in the Texas House of
Representatives, from 1985 to 1991. He
switched to the Republican Party, a common practice at the time, before he ran
for agricultural commissioner in 1990.
Perry was George Bush's lieutenant governor before he became governor in
December 2000. He was elected governor
in November 2002.
It's difficult to know if Perry is acting
out of personal conviction or simply pursuing a political strategy. State
Representative Warren Chisum (R), who
authored the gay marriage amendment,
said, "He's doing what his convictions are.
He's a committed Christian."
Stamping out gay rumors
Internet rumors for years have whis
pered that Perry, who is married, is a closeted gay man. Last spring, the rumors became
more specific, alleging that Perry and his
wife were planning to divorce because he is
Perry held an unusual press conference
in March 2004 to denounce the "smear campaign" that he said was an "obvious, orchestrated effort." He declined to name names,
but slammed Texas Democratic Party Chan-
Charles Soechting for referring to the
rumors at a political rally. Protesters outside the governor's mansion held signs such
as, "It's OK to be gay, guv," calling on Perry
to come clean about his sexual orientation.
"[The rumors] are not correct in any
shape, form or fashion," he said at the time.
"These are irresponsiblee. They're salacious. They're hurtful to my family"
Experts interviewed for this report said
no credible evidence to support the rumors
has emerged, but the brouhaha could have
created image problems for the governor
among conservative Christians.
Whatever his motivations, Perry's comments and actions are hurting Texans,
"Whether someone believes it or not it's
harmful to society," Coleman said. "Even
if it's a political strategy it sends the