Even with Rick Perry's departure from the 2016 Republican presidential race, the field remains arguably the most antigay ever. But the former Texas governor's anti-LGBT record goes far beyond opposition to marriage equality,support for "religious objections" laws, and involving right-wing activists in his campaigns. With his announcement today that he's ending his candidacy, we thought we'd bid him a not-so-fond farewell by revisiting his top antigay moments.
Being gay is like being an alcoholic. In 2014, while still Texas's governor, Perry was asked about the endorsement of "ex-gay" therapy by the Texas Republican Party. "Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that," he replied. "I may have the genetic coding that I'm inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way." He later admitted he "stepped in it" with that answer and said he would defer to science on "ex-gay" counseling.
Supporting the Boy Scouts' gay ban is like opposing slavery. In 2013, before the Boy Scouts of America ended its ban on gay members, Perry advised against it. He compared his own opposition to gays in the Scouts to the work of Texas independence hero and onetime governor Sam Houston, an opponent of slavery and secession. "That's the type of principled leadership, that's the type of courage that I hope people across this country [have] on this issue of scouts and keeping the Boy Scouts the organization it is today," he said.
That "Strong" campaign ad. "There's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but your kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school," Perry said in an ad, titled "Strong," that aired in December 2011, during his previous presidential campaign. The ad inspired widespread denunciation and numerous parodies, many of which pointed out that Perry was sporting a jacket just like the one Heath Ledger wore when playing a gay ranch hand in Brokeback Mountain.
Promoting LGBT rights abroad is "deeply objectionable." "Just when you thought Barack Obama couldn't get any more out of touch with America's values ... his administration wants to make foreign aid decisions based on gay rights," Perry said, also in December 2011, in response to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's United Nations speech in which she said, "Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights," and that a country's stance on LGBT issues could figure in U.S. foreign aid decisions. Perry said gay rights were instead "special rights," adding, "Investing tax dollars promoting a lifestyle many Americans of faith find so deeply objectionable is wrong."
Lame gay-related jokes about his Republican rivals. After he withdrew from the presidential race in 2012, Perry joked at a gala event in Washington, D.C., "I like Mitt Romney as much as one really good-looking man can like a really good-looking man and not break Texas law." That apparently was a reference to Texas's antisodomy law, which remained on the books despite being made unenforceable by the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision. That ruling struck down all such laws nationwide, though on a separate occasion Perry claimed not to be familiar with the decision. At the dinner he also mentioned that he holds a degree in animal husbandry, which he said "sounds like what Rick Santorum thinks gay marriage leads to."