So much for states’ rights.
Texas Governor Rick Perry (R), one of the country’s most prominent defenders of the 10th Amendment, is making an exception when it comes to gay marriage. After initially telling reporters that it’s “fine with me” if states like New York legalize same-sex unions through their own legislature, Perry is pulling a 180 and calling for a Federal Marriage Amendment.
Perry, who is flirting with a presidential bid, clarified his position to Family Research Council president Tony Perkins in an interview.
“I probably needed to add a few words after that ‘it’s fine with me’ and that it’s fine with me that a state is using their sovereign rights to decide an issue,” he said. “Obviously gay marriage is not fine with me. My stance hasn’t changed.”
Perry said he supported changing the Constitution in order to ban gay marriage, a position that he characterized as supportive of states’ rights even as it would overrule New York’s own decision on the matter.
“The real fear is states like New York will change the definition of marriage for Texas,” he said. “That is the reason the Federal Marriage Amendment is being offered. It’s a small group of activists judges and really a small handful, if you will, of states and these liberal special interest groups that are intent on a redefinition, if you will, of marriage on the nation for all of us, which I adamantly oppose. Indeed, to not pass the Federal Marriage Amendment would impinge on Texas’ and other states’ right not to have marriage forced upon them by these activist judges and these special interest groups.”
His latest statement represents a major about-face and may be a preview of how he might court social conservatives should he run for president. At a fundraiser in Colorado last week, Perry was extremely clear in his support for New York’s right to determine their own definition of marriage.
“Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me,” he said at the time. “That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business.”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.