Rick Perry Taps Antigay Activists for Florida Campaign

By Lucas Grindley

Originally published on Advocate.com September 22 2011 2:33 PM ET

To help win him the Republican nomination, Rick Perry is joining forces in Florida with the evangelical leader who ushered in a same-sex marriage ban in that state in 2008.

John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, which claims about 65,000 Floridians as its followers, is now part of Perry's "leadership team" and will serve as cochairman of his effort to win a straw poll in the state. Perry also named Pam Olsen to the team. She is on record as warning that same-sex marriage and ordination of gay priests could lead to floods, fires, and tornadoes.

Stemberger's endorsement has been featured in a mailer to voters. As the former state chairman of the Florida4Marriage.org campaign for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, Stemberger argued that gay parents are inferior to straight ones.

"A super majority of Floridians believe, and the research clearly indicates, that children do best when raised by a mom and a dad," he said in 2007, spreading false information that was most recently debunked quite publicly by Sen. Al Franken during a Senate hearing on the Defense of Marriage Act.

Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, which works with the Florida Family Policy Council, had claimed during his testimony that a 2010 government study proved opposite-sex parents offer the best environment for raising children.

“Isn’t it true, Mr. Minnery, that a married, same-sex couple that has had or adopted kids would fall under the definition of a ‘nuclear family’ in the study that you cite?” asked Franken.

“I would think that the study, when it cites a nuclear families, would mean a family headed by a husband and wife,” Minnery replied.

“It doesn’t,” Franken replied flatly, to laughs. “The study defines a nuclear family as one or more children living with two parents who are married to one another, and are each biological or adoptive parents to all the children in the family. And I frankly don’t really know how we can trust the rest of your testimony if you’re reading studies these ways.”

Stemberger told The Miami Herald that he'd opted to endorse Perry over Michele Bachmann after trying to "determine who’s viable."

"Perry is not a perfect candidate," he said. "We only had one perfect candidate and we crucified him 2,000 years ago."

In the video below, watch Olsen, who is founder of the Florida Prayer Network, mock "tolerance" as an excuse for "forgetting God's word completely."

"You know what, God is not one that is going to wink at sin," she warns. "He will come and shake everything that can be shaken. God is a god of judgment." She sees a connection between natural disasters and the Episcopal Church's decision to ordain gay priests. "If anybody looks at the news and has just seen what's been happening recently with the floods the fires the tornadoes, God is shaking, yeah."