2012 campaign: Rick Perry and a uniquely anti-gay GOP field?
You might think as much following the revelation by reporter Mark Benjamin that Republican front-runner and Texas Gov. Rick Perry once compared, in writing, homosexuality to alcoholism. Benjamin writes at Time magazine's Swampland blog:
Since leaping into the GOP presidential race, Texas Gov. Rick Perry hasn't been asked if he thinks gays are born or made. But in a little-noticed passage in his first book, "On My Honor," a encomium on the Boy Scouts published in 2008, Perry also drew a parallel between homosexuality and alcoholism. "Even if an alcoholic is powerless over alcohol once it enters his body, he still makes a choice to drink," he wrote. "And, even if someone is attracted to a person of the same sex, he or she still makes a choice to engage in sexual activity with someone of the same gender."
In "On My Honor," Perry also punted on the exact origins of homosexuality. He wrote that he is "no expert on the 'nature versus nurture' debate," but that gays should simply choose abstinence. Perry's campaign did not respond to a request for comment on whether he maintains this view.
This comes after former front-runner Michele Bachmann's widely advertised connection to homosexual reparative therapy, also known as "pray the gay away," not to mention Rick Santorum's comments years ago on "man on dog" sex. Even Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts who appears suspiciously moderate to mainstream Republican voters, called for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Could this be the biggest gay-bashing election in recent history? Doubtful, since President George W. Bush set such a high bar in 2004. Quite the contrary: Call me an optimist, but I see such highly publicized gay-baiting as a positive development.
Why? Not so long ago, the virulently homophobic views offered by some candidates were treated almost as viable alternatives to the positions taken by less anti-gay politicians. It was as if all those views came from the same menu of Reasonable Points of View Worth Debating. Now, the radical ideas espoused by Bachmann, Perry, Santorum and others are held up not for genuine consideration but for scorn (notwithstanding the last GOP debate in Iowa). Perry's and Bachmann's views aren't weighed against President Obama's "evolving" stance on same-sex marriage; rather, they are simply ridiculed. It says as much about our society as it does the candidates.
It gets better indeed.
-- Paul Thornton
Photo: Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks to members of the South Carolina GOP during a lunch in Columbia, S.C., on Aug. 19. Credit: Brett Flashnick / Associated Press