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Judge answers Perry’s prayers on ‘Response,’ Perry answers Perkins on marriage

Gov. Rick Perry will be free to usher, direct parking or join hands onstage with James Dobson one week from Saturday, thanks to a ruling yesterday in Houston federal court dropping a suit meant to keep him from participating in his Houston prayer rally.

“My prayer is that the courts will find that the First Amendment is still applicable to governors no matter what they might be doing,” Perry told reporters Wednesday, and yesterday’s court decision agreed.

The New York Times wrote the dismissal of the suit brought by the atheist and agnostic Freedom From Religion Foundation amounts to “a key legal victory in what has become one of the most controversial events of his political career in Texas”:

Judge Gray H. Miller, of Federal District Court in the Southern District of Texas, ruled that the plaintiffs — the foundation and five of its Houston-area members — had suffered no concrete injury and that the governor’s invitations for Texans to join him in a day of prayer were “requests, not commands.” People offended by the governor’s prayer rally can either not attend, not pray or express their disapproval using their First Amendment rights, the judge said. He dismissed the lawsuit and the motion to stop the governor’s official participation.

After his appearance on Family Research Council president Tony Perkins’ radio show yesterday, Perry may be welcomed a little more enthusiastically by the anti-gay American Family Association and other “Response” leaders who questioned his comments last week that New York’s new marriage equality law was “fine by me.”

In keeping with statements he’s made before, Perry said it should be a states’ rights issue, like legalizing marijuana. AFA spokesman Bryan Fischer told the Texas Independent earlier this week that Perry “missed an opportunity” when he made those remarks, but yesterday Perry wasn’t about to let it go by again.

“Obviously, gay marriage is not fine with me,” he told Perkins, adding that marriage equality moves by New York and other states risk ruining the institution for all of us.

“Indeed, to not pass the federal marriage amendment would impinge on Texas,” Perry said.

Perry spokesman Mark Miner told the Los Angeles Times it wasn’t a change of position at all, and that Perry has “been very consistent” on his stance.

Perry’s comments last week were: “That’s New York, and that’s their business and that’s fine with me. That is their call.”

More headlines:

Austin American-Statesman: Lawsuit could be a help or hindrance for Doggett

Doggett, D-Austin, had wanted to have an Austin-area congressional redistricting case heard by itself in an Austin court. The hope was to quickly dispose of the case and undo the work of the Legislature, which created a congressional district map last month that carves Travis County into five districts and seemed to be designed to end Doggett’s nearly 17-year tenure in Congress.

San Antonio Express-News: Perry late to embrace Reagan

If Perry finds significance in Reagan’s election, or learned anything about rugged individualism during the Gipper’s eight years as president, it took a long time for the inspirational lessons to sink in.

Associated Press: Texas town auctions troubled jail for $6 million

A $6 million bid has been declared the winner of an auction Thursday to sell off a prison that has been a financial millstone on the back of a small High Plains Texas town.

Odessa American: Guest view: Do school accountability ratings mean anything?

The upcoming 2011 Accountability Ratings are destined to produce even more public skepticism. Why? Because in calculating this year’s state ratings, TEA will not apply the controversial Texas Projection Measure, a complex student growth projection that allowed many districts, and their campuses, to receive higher ratings in 2010 than would otherwise have been the case.

Texas Tribune: Fees for Students Redefine “Free” Public School

As cash-strapped public schools attempt to squeeze every possible dollar out of their budgets, an unpleasant reality awaits parents: They will most likely have to pay for programs and services that schools once provided for free.

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