Social Conservatives Concerned About Rick Perry Being ‘Fine’ With New York’s Marriage Equality Law

Social conservatives have stepped up their criticism of Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) for saying that he is “fine” with New York’s decision to pass a law legalizing same-sex marriage and that the 10th amendment leaves such issues to the states. The backlash began with Rick Santorum — who yesterday promised to “go to New York” and repeal the law — and has spread to South Carolina’s Focus on the Family affiliate, the Palmetto Family Council, the FAMiLY LEADER’s Bob Vander Plaats and American Values’ Gary Bauer:

— ORAN SMITH, Palmetto Family: “It’s the way he said it,” Smith said, noting that Perry said he was “fine” with New York’s new law. He explained that if by “fine” he means he’s happy about it, that won’t sit well with evangelical voters, but if he’s approaching it as a constitutional lawyer would, it may not be so bad.

— GARY BAUER, American Values: “His comments were inartful and disappointing. The 10th Amendment and states’ rights is very important to conservatives, but it’s not our highest value,” Bauer said. “There are some things so fundamentally wrong that we have not left those things up to the states.” The governor also seemed unaware that the threat we are facing is the same-sex laws of New York and Massachusetts being forced on the whole country. So I think he still has great potential, but I think it’s a sign that even if you are a governor, the transition to the presidential sweepstakes requires a lot of study and understanding the nuances of these issues.”

— BOB VANDER PLAATS, FAMiLY LEADER: “I hope it’s more of an education issue to understand this is going to a federal level,” he said, adding, “Many of us advocated for states’ rights and were big 10th Amendment people, but when it comes to things like whether its slavery, and abortion, or marriage, we’re not saying, ‘Well it’s OK to have slavery in Alabama but not Iowa.’ And our group wouldn’t say, ‘It’s OK to have abortion in the state of Washington but not in Iowa.’ Some things are right and some things are wrong, and especially when it comes to marriage, it’s a foundation block and a building block for society.”

Smith’s Palmetto Family has successfully pursued anti-gay measures in South Carolina and recently challenged the presidential contenders to “make family a centerpiece of their campaigns.” So far, just three presidential candidates — Huntsman, Santorum, and Bachmann — responded to the request.

Perry’s aides, meanwhile, have rushed to reassure conservatives of the governor’s support for a federal amendment outlawing the recognition of same sex relationships, despite his praise for the 10th amendment. “Nothing has changed with the governor’s philosophy here,” Mark Miner, a spokesman for Perry, told the Statesman, “confirming Perry’s support of a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman…the Texas Defense of Marriage Act and a state constitutional amendment defining traditional marriage.”

In 2010’s Fed Up: Our Fight to Save America From Washington, however, Perry wrote, “Gay marriage will soon be the policy of the United States, irrespective of federalism, the Constitution, or the wish of the American people. Not because it is actually protected in the Constitution, but because judges will declare it so.”