July 5, 2015 at 1:02 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Perry hedges on reviving ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Rick Perry, Texas, Republican Party, CPAC, Conservative Political Action Conference, gay news, Washington Blade

Former Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry hedged Sunday on whether he would reinstate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” if elected president, suggesting he still holds his 2011 view that “there’s something wrong” with this country if gays can serve openly in the military.

Perry made the comments on ABC’s “This Week” under questioning from host George Stephanopoulos about the candidate’s widely panned 2011 ad from his earlier presidential run in which he says, “There’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly, but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.”

When Stephanopoulos first asked Perry whether he would reinstate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as president, the former Texas governor dodged the question entirely and instead responded to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.

“I agree with the four justices that were on the losing side of that decision,” Perry said, adding the issue of same-sex marriage should be left to the states.

“I think the bigger and broader issue, from my perspective, is the next President of the United States may choose up to three Supreme Court justices,” Perry continued. “You know, I’m very clear in my stand that I believe in traditional marriage. But that I think is the bigger issue here, that the next president of the United States may choose up to three Supreme Court justices.”

When Stephanopoulos restated his question to Perry on whether he would seek to revive “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the candidate hedged, saying, “I have no reason to think that that’s going to be able to be done.”

When the host attempted to sum up Perry’s remarks by saying, “So, we’re beyond that.” Perry replied with the metaphor, “the horse is out of the barn.”

Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” left no statutory language on gays in the military in place, so theoretically Perry could instate an administrative ban similar to the policy before the Clinton-era law.

Michael Tyler, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, slammed Perry for his comments on “This Week,” saying they demonstrate he’s unable to serve in the White House.

“Gov. Perry’s refusal to accept LGBT Americans who are willing to put their lives on the line for their country shows just how out of touch he is with mainstream America,” Tyler said. “As Americans celebrate the recent victories LGBT Americans have gained through decades of hard work, Rick Perry appears to be more open to returning to a time when LGBT service members were forced to lie to their fellow soldiers. Rick Perry would have us believe that his problem in 2012 was that he was not prepared to run for president. His comments today make it clear that he’ll never be ready.”

Perry is facing an uphill battle in winning the Republican nomination for president. Polls have him in the single digits and behind other candidates, such as Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker.

Watch the 2011 ad in which Perry makes his remarks against gays serving openly in the military here:

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

1 Comment
  • So DADT has no statutory prohibition from reinstating it. Looks like activists drop the ball here. You left a loophole that right-wing extremists can try to exploit.

    This is a fine example why you should NEVER take your rights for granted. A right to serve in the military openly was granted. However, that right could be under threat if the wrong person is elected to office. Assuming no one would ever try to deny rights again is shortsighted. What is given is always under threat to be taken away. Look at the voting rights act and affirmative action. Keep vigilant and don’t ever become complacent.

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