The former Texas governor made the comments during a taped interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” when host Chuck Todd asked the candidate if he stands by remarks in a 2008 book in which he said gay people have no place in Boy Scouts.
“I do,” Perry said. “I believe that scouting would be better off, if they didn’t have openly gay scoutmasters.”
When Todd followed up to ask Perry if that response means he’s against the policy change proposed by Boy Scouts President Robert Gates — who as defense secretary oversaw implementation of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal in the U.S. military — Perry affirmed that is case.
“I am,” Perry said succinctly.
The Boy Scouts already lifted in 2013 its ban barring children who identify as gay from taking part in the organization. Last week, the organization’s executive committee sought to take a step further by unanimously approving a resolution that would allow gay adults to serve as leaders. A final vote on the resolution is set for July 27.
Perry makes comments on the Boy Scouts just weeks after he said on ABC’s “This Week” the “horse is out of the barn” on openly gay service in the U.S. military. Although media reports suggested the remarks indicated a change in tune for Perry, who once said “there’s something wrong” with openly gay military service, the words also suggest he still personally holds the position gays should be barred from service in the armed forces.
It remains to be seen whether Perry’s comments will lead to further media inquiries or a clarification of his response.
Last week, Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker invoked the ire of LGBT advocates by saying the Boy Scouts prohibition on gay people “protected children and advanced Scout values.” A few days later, Walker sought to recast his remarks by saying the policy is “up to the Boy Scouts” and children don’t need “physical protection,” but protection from discussion in politics and the media.
JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president of policy and political affairs for the Human Rights Campaign, took Perry to task for his remarks and compared him to Walker.
“Rick Perry’s hurtful and offensive comments this morning are yet another reminder of how much ‘better off’ our nation is with him out of public office, and especially the White House,” Winterhof said. “The rest of the candidates need to make clear they don’t agree with Rick Perry and Scott Walker’s support of the Boy Scouts’ discriminatory policy.”
Responding to questions about his position on the Boy Scouts’ gay ban Sunday in an interview Sunday with CNN’s Dana Bash, Walker said he couldn’t say whether being gay is a choice and that’s “not even an issue for me to be involved in.”
“The bottom line is I’m going to stand up and work hard for every American, without regard of who they are, no matter where they come from, no matter what their background, I’m going to fight for people, whether they vote for me or not,” Walker said.
Winterhof also said in a separate statement Walker’s uncertainty about not knowing if being gay is a choice is outrageous.
“It’s appalling that a candidate for president in the year 2015 could botch such a fundamental question,” Winterhof said. “Of course it isn’t a choice. If it was, Scott Walker would be able to tell us when he chose to be straight.”