Former Texas governor and 2016 Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, N.H., April 17, 2015.
Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

GOP turns up the volume on anti-gay rhetoric

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) caused a stir last week, arguing that the Boy Scouts shouldn’t change its policy banning gay adult leaders. The status quo, Walker said, has “protected children.”
 
The Republican presidential candidate walked that back a bit a day later, but on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), another 2016 White House hopeful, embraced the anti-gay argument without hesitation. ThinkProgress reported:
Meet the Press’ Chuck Todd asked Perry, who served as the governor of Texas from 2000 – 2015, whether his views on openly gay scout leaders had changed since 2008, when he wrote that “openly active gays, particularly advocates, present a problem. Because gay activism is central to their lives, it would unavoidably be a topic of conversation within a Scout troop. This would distract from the mission of Scouting; character building, not sex education.”
 
Perry said he still stood by that statement. “I believe that scouting would be better off if they didn’t have openly gay Scout masters,” he said.
The video of the exchange is online here.
 
Also yesterday morning, CNN’s Dana Bash asked Walker if he believes sexual orientation is a choice. “I don’t know,” the Wisconsin Republican replied. “I don’t know the answer to that question. So, I’m saying I don’t know what the answer to that is.”
 
It’s worth noting that the governor has spent his adult life in politics, tackling countless debates over social issues. It seems hard to believe Walker still hasn’t come to a conclusion about whether he believes sexual orientation is a matter of personal preference – a debate that was settled in reality many years ago.
 
The bizarre rhetoric from the GOP candidates looks even worse when considered in the larger context. At the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, over the weekend, one Republican leader after another condemned marriage equality, while on Capitol Hill, GOP lawmakers continue to move forward with legislation to push back against the recent Supreme Court ruling. 
 
Away from the political sphere, the American mainstream is increasingly supportive of marriage equality, but the same isn’t true of Republican voters – a new Gallup poll shows GOP voters continue to oppose equal marriage rights by a greater than two-to-one margin.
 
A month ago, the New York Times reported that many Republican insiders were quietly grateful for the Supreme Court decision that brought marriage equality to the nation. The article noted that ruling offered the GOP a chance to “pivot” away from an issue on which the party is “sharply out of step with the American public.”
 
The piece noted some Republican strategists privately characterized the high court decisions as “nothing short of a gift from above.”
 
A month later, how’s that “pivot” working out for the party?
 

Gay Rights, Marriage, Marriage Equality, Rick Perry and Scott Walker

GOP turns up the volume on anti-gay rhetoric