The leader of South Carolina’s Focus on the Family affiliate, the Palmetto Family Council, was among several conservative leaders recently asked to weigh in
The leader of South Carolina’s Focus on the Family affiliate, the Palmetto Family Council, was among several conservative leaders recently asked to weigh in on the same-sex-marriage views of speculated presidential contender Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Like many of the other leaders, Palmetto Family President Oran Smith was less than impressed with the Republican governor’s view on gay 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. That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business.”
Smith told RCP that his email box has been filling up with supporters’ mixed responses to Perry’s comments. Overall, Smith said Perry’s comments likely will not be viewed favorably by many conservative voters, particularly evangelical Christian voters.
“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.
At the same time, Smith said he’s concerned that Perry’s comments suggest he could be “slippery” on other issues. “And he may be perceived as stumbling out of the gate because of a poor choice of words,” he said, indicating that such a stumble could hurt Perry in the early voting states of Iowa and South Carolina, where he would need to do well.
As The American Independent recently reported, Palmetto holds a certain amount of influence with conservative voters in what is an influential primary state. The group recently launched a “Family 2012″ campaign to find out where 2012 presidential candidates stand on policy issues important to the organization.
RCP also published responses from Bob Vander Plaats of Iowa’s Family Leader, as well as American Values’ Gary Bauer and Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Ralph Reed.
Bauer called Perry’s comments “inartful and disappointing”; Reed told RCP that the real judgment of Perry will come with his stance on a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage. Vander Plaats was the least critical of the four, explaining that Perry has to understand the difference between same-sex marriage as a federal or state issue:
“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.’ … 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.”
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