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
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
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.