Rick Perry’s Debate Gaffes Make For Choice Comedy. However, What He’s Chosen to Say About Gays, Sadly, Only Points Out a Tragic Flaw in His Character

Dec 8, 2011

Sixty-six years ago, in the dense, snow-covered forests of Western Europe, Allied forces were beating back a massive assault in what would become known as the Battle of the Bulge. And in the final days of fighting, a regiment in the 80th Division of Patton’s Third Army came under fire. The men were traveling along a narrow trail. They were exposed and they were vulnerable. Hundreds of soldiers were cut down by the enemy.

And during the firefight, a private named Lloyd Corwin tumbled 40 feet down the deep side of a ravine. Dazed and trapped, he was as good as dead. But one soldier, a friend, turned back. And with shells landing around him, amid smoke and chaos and the screams of wounded men, this soldier, this friend, scaled down the icy slope, risking his own life to bring Private Corwin to safer ground.

For the rest of his years, Lloyd credited this soldier, this friend, named Andy Lee, with saving his life, knowing he would never have made it out alone. It was a full four decades after the war, when the two friends reunited in their golden years, that Lloyd learned that the man who saved his life, his friend Andy, was gay. He had no idea. And he didn’t much care. Lloyd knew what mattered. He knew what had kept him alive; what made it possible for him to come home and start a family and live the rest of his life. It was his friend.

The recounting of this true story is from a speech President Obama delivered a year ago, when he signed the legislation ending the military’s policy of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Later, I heard Lloyd’s son, Miles, talking about his dad and Andy and gays in the military on the public radio show “The Story.”

Miles put a fine exclamation on the issue: “Valor has no sexual orientation.”

Texas Governor Rick Perry must have been absent in Sunday school the day that was taught. Or, perhaps more likely—and sadly—it was a lesson that wasn’t taught in the Sunday school Perry attended.

We know how Perry feels about this because of what he says in an ad he’s just released in Iowa, as he coddles—and cuddles up to—the evangelical vote there.

Here’s how the ad—titled “Strong” by the Perry campaign—opens: “I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian, but you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know that there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.”

I’m not even going to address the rest of what Perry said about our kids, nor what he says in the rest of the ad, which you can watch at the bottom of this column.

But it’s not the only slur against gays he’s delivered lately.

Earlier this week both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave impassioned support to gays. Clinton gave a speech that “equated gay rights with women’s rights during a speech in Geneva,” reports ABC News. That same article said, “In a memorandum released today, Obama said foreign aid should be used by U.S. agencies operating abroad to ‘promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons,’ including combating the criminalization of LGBT status or conduct by foreign governments, along with protecting LGBT asylum seekers and refugees.

“ ‘I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world, whether it is passing laws that criminalize LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT pride celebrations, or killing men, women, and children for their perceived sexual orientation,’ Obama said in the memo.”

The report also tells of Perry’s reaction: “ ‘Just when you thought Barack Obama couldn’t get any more out of touch with America’s values, AP reports his administration wants to make foreign aid decisions based on gay rights. This administration’s war on traditional American values must stop,’ Perry said in the statement. ‘Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America’s interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers’ money.’

“ ‘But there is a troubling trend here beyond the national security nonsense inherent in this silly idea,’ Perry said. ‘This is just the most recent example of an administration at war with people of faith in this country. Investing tax dollars promoting a lifestyle many [Americans] of faith find so deeply objectionable is wrong. President Obama has again mistaken America’s tolerance for different lifestyles with an endorsement of those lifestyles. I will not make that mistake.’ ”

I would posit it’s Perry who’s out of touch with America’s values.

For example, a number of conservative commentators have said they are OK with gays in the military. When asked about it on ABC’s Sunday morning news show “This Week,” conservative commentator George Will said, “For people of [Matthew Dowd's] son’s generation, being gay is like being left-handed. … The Supreme Court has a famous phrase it used in some opinion, the evolving standards of decency that mark a maturing society. Clearly these are evolving, and the case is over, basically."

In a column posted in June 2010, on the site “View From the Right,” Lawrence Auster quoted Washington Post conservative Robert Knight as follows:

“Charles Krauthammer, who has written some of the best critiques of Obamacare and the rest of the left’s assault on America, is also aboard the gay express. He’s smarter than God. So, too, are Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman, Weekly Standard columnist Stephen Hayes, Fox News analyst Margaret Hoover and American Spectator columnist Phillip Klein, all of whom have called for repealing the military ban. Mr. Klein called it a ‘no-brainer.’ No arguing with that.

“The silence of other talking heads is deafening while Democrats ram through their immoral assault on our military. So I have a couple of questions for these pundits: First, given that you’ve warned us repeatedly about many dangers of the left, why are you embracing the centerpiece of their war on American values? Homosexual activism is the spear point of the larger cultural blitzkrieg. Without Judeo-Christian morals, liberty and freedom cannot thrive, as observers from Tocqueville to Adam Smith to George Washington have warned. Or just visit any inner city where socialist sexual values have prevailed.”

I’m sorry, but what crap. Supporting gay rights does not violate Judeo-Christian values. Supporting gay rights does not mean liberty and freedom cannot thrive—just the opposite, in fact.

Back in the days of Congress’ Communist witch hunt of the 1950s, Lillian Hellman wrote a famous letter to a congressional committee saying that she refused to testify about other people who she believed had done nothing wrong. The sound bite for all time was “I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions.”

But Hellman also wrote in that letter, “I was raised in an old-fashioned American tradition and there were certain homely things that were taught to me: To try to tell the truth, not to bear false witness, not to harm my neighbor, to be loyal to my country, and so on. In general, I respected these ideals of Christian honor and did as well with them as I knew how. It is my belief that you will agree with these simple rules of human decency and will not expect me to violate the good American tradition from which they spring.”

Human decency demands that Perry and those of h
is ilk stop their incessant attack on gays and those who support ending discrimination based on someone’s sexual orientation.

Obama and Clinton are right on this one. Their stand IS the moral one, and is the one that’s right for the country.

8 Comments

  1. Excellent piece – thank you.

  2. Perry never said he was against gays in the military. He said he was against the life style. Just because you are against the lifestyle, doesn’t mean you hate gay people. It means just that, you don’t approve of their lifestyle. Our country was founded on religious freedom. Our countries founding fathers were Christians. They were very religious men who believed the bible and it is the bible which said that the lifestyle is wrong. An overwhelming majority of Americans claim to be Christian. If this is indeed the case, then Perry is speaking to their beliefs. Saying that supporting gay rights does not go against our beliefs is ridiculous. God created the family in the garden of Eden and it was with one man and one woman. To say otherwise is a direct contradiction to the bible and against our beliefs.

  3. balh, blah, blah, bible, blah, blah, blah.
    the bible says a great many things about what should/should not be done that certain folks “choose” to ignore. Go back and re-read it.

  4. Methinks Rick Perry doth protest too much….
    Can someone say “latent issues?”

  5. I am so sick and tired of so-called Christians hiding their ignorant and bigoted beliefs behind the bible. They pick and choose what parts of the bible to enforce based on their own comfort level. The bible says you should own slaves..hnmmm..the blood of the many youth suicides around the nation who feared intolerance and lack of acceptance is stains to their biblical pretence.

  6. “American” said: “Just because you are against the lifestyle, doesn’t mean you hate gay people.”
    Yes, it does. In fact, it means exactly that, and nothing else.
    Oh, and–:
    1. There is no such thing as “the gay lifestyle.” There are people, who are gay–along with all the other things that they are–who live their lives. That’s all
    2. Those people, who are gay–along with all the other things that they are–have basic rights (not “special rights,” just the same ones everybody else has) that are subject to a vote of the people or their representatives only if everybody else’s access to those rights is also up for a vote. Which means, of coure, that they’re not
    3. Religious freedom is not, and never has been, at issue in the struggle for civil and human rights. People of all faiths are free to worship and otherwise follow their faiths as they see fit, but not to impose by force of law their beliefs on non-believers (gay or otherwise). In The Log’s religion–just to pick an example out of thin air–it is a sin to be ignorant about the Bill of Rights or to willfully spread such ignorance on the intertubez. In The Log’s religion, obviously, “American” is a hopeless sinner, and is to be shunned, denied employment, and banned from singing, laughing or eating cantaloupe (it’s a tough religion. Conversions re rare. Silver lining: we all know each other). But fortunately for “American,” the Constitution prevents the government from enforcing The Log’s religious beliefs as though they were actual laws (or actually made sense). So while The Log is free to ban “American” from attending (or working at) The Log’s annual private Cantaloupe Comedy Sing-A-Long Party, The Log cannot ask Congress to outlaw singing, laughing or eating melons or any combination thereof
    4. Every sentence in “American’s” posting is objectively, demonstrably false. Every sentence is factually untrue. Except this one: “An overwhelming majority of Americans claim to be Christian.” That one sentence is statistically true. It’s the only one that’s true. It’s also irrelevent to the issue (for the reason, see #3, above)
    Finally, to one and all, The Log’s Best Wishes for a Humorous, Harmonious Cantaloupe and a Musical New Melon!
    Back to work:

  7. Chuck Ross is right on. Real conservatives, and I count myself as one, support equal rights for all citizens. They do not support passing laws or changing the Constitution to delineate certain minority groups for whom the Constitution will not apply.

  8. I’m glad he dropped out, he made religion part of his politics and that’s never a good idea

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