Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry made disparaging remarks toward gays and lesbians this week, drawing the ire of gay Republican groups, The Hill
The statements may reflect Texas Gov. Perry’s deeply held beliefs, and are likely aimed at appealing to social conservatives in Iowa, host to the nation’s first primary/caucus on Jan. 3. For two months Perry led the polls in the Hawkeye State, but now has just single-digit support. So he may feel desperate to win over socially conservative voters.
On Tuesday Perry issued a statement in response to President Barack Obama’s directive to U.S. diplomats and foreign aid workers to emphasize human rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
“Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America's interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers' money,” Perry said, calling homosexuality “a lifestyle many Americas of faith find so deeply objectionable.”
The next day, Perry’s campaign released a television ad playing up his Christian faith and promising to end Obama’s “war on religion.” Perry said in the ad, “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.”
Jimmy LaSalvia, co-founder of GOProud, a group representing gay Republicans, sees the Perry campaign in panic mode. “We’re seeing the end times of the Perry campaign,” he told The Hill. “This is a strategy that plays to a very, very small minority — playing to the cheap seats is what it is.”
The head of Log Cabin Republicans, another major group of gay conservatives, went after the ad, telling The Hill that Perry was creating a false divide between following faith and supporting equality in the military.
Perry’s critics also noted that while about 700 viewers “liked” the ad, which was posted on YouTube, about 25,000 viewers “disliked” it.
An adviser to one of the PACs supporting Perry told The Hill that his comments may be necessary to gain traction in Iowa. “I’m surprised, but it makes sense,” the adviser said. “He’s got a short window to start moving numbers. The way to move them in Iowa is to go socially conservative.”
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