The governor closes the borders

By Mike Trimble
Denton Record-Chronicle, Denton, Tex., June 10, 2005

Gov. Rick Perry has invited homosexual war veterans from Texas to move elsewhere, a statement so breathtaking in its bigotry that we thought at first that reports of it had to be incorrect.

Sadly, they were not. A quick check in newspapers and wire service Web sites confirmed that the governor had uttered the 21st-century equivalent of "Send 'em all back to Africa," and, even sadder, that he did it before an approving audience at a private Christian academy in Forth Worth.

There are a couple of circumstances that might tend to mitigate the governor's vile pronouncement:
1. It was in response to an obviously hostile question, and,
2. Perry may simply be too dumb to realize just how vile his answer sounded.

Perry had orchestrated a big campaign photo op at the Calvary Christian Academy in Fort Worth over the weekend to watch him sign legislation requiring minors to get parental permission for abortions and a proclamation putting a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on the Texas ballot. There were several protesters on hand who objected to one or both of the measures Perry was signing, and to what they perceived as an unhealthy melding of church and state. At some point in the proceedings, someone asked Perry what he would say to a returning veteran of the Iraq war who wished to marry someone of the same sex, the unfriendly but not unreasonable implication being that a Texan who has fought for his or her country has pretty much earned the right to marry whomever he or she damn well pleases.

Perry answered thus:
"Texans have made a decision about marriage, and if there is some other state that has a more lenient view than Texas, then maybe that's a better place for them to live."

Setting aside for a moment the technicality that the people of Texas have not yet voted on this proposed amendment, let us examine the malign prejudice that is implicit in Perry's words.

There are plenty of intellectual arguments to be made for and against constitutionally defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. They involve custom, sociology, child welfare, economics, individual liberty and a raft of other issues. Perry addressed none of them; he simply implied - strongly, in our opinion - that gay and lesbian people are not welcome in "his" Texas. Because the question was couched in terms of returning war veterans, that's the way he answered it, but his "invitation" seemed pretty general in nature: If you're gay or lesbian, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

There are some people in Texas, and everywhere else, who believe that way, and Perry seemed to be pandering to that constituency. He may well win their votes with such statements, but they do him no credit among people of good will, no matter how they feel about same-sex marriage.

We do not want our governor to be a bigot. We fervently hope he just said something stupid again. We can live with stupid.



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Last Updated: Feb. 23, 2006