AUSTIN — Rick Perry has signed a pledge to back a federal constitutional amendment against gay marriage — a reversal from a month ago when the Texas governor said he so supported individual states' rights that he was fine with New York's approval of same-sex marriage.
The pledge by the National Organization for Marriage states that, if elected, Perry will send a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the states for ratification, and appoint U.S. Supreme Court and federal judges who will "reject the idea our Founding Fathers inserted a right to gay marriage into our Constitution."
Others vying for the Republican presidential nomination, including Michelle Bachmann, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, have also signed it, according to Brian Brown, president of Washington-based National Organization for Marriage, which campaigns against same-sex marriage.
While far from a surprise, Perry's decision raised some eyebrows because it appears to contradict his previous position that this is an issue that should be left up to individual legislatures.
Perry won applause at a Republican conference in Colorado on July 22 when he said of New York's same-sex marriage law, "that's New York, and that's their business, and that's fine with me."
Those comments alarmed some conservatives, however, and Perry moved to soothe fears the following week when he said during a broadcast interview with Tony Perkins of the conservative Family Research Council, "I probably needed to add a few words after that 'It's fine with me.'"
"Obviously gay marriage is not fine with me. My stance hasn't changed. I believe marriage is a union between one man and one woman," Perry told Perkins.
His signing of the pledge reiterates that clarification. Perry spokesman Mark Miner did not return phone messages seeking further comment Friday.
Perry has not always been so sanguine about the Supreme Court's ability to help him oppose gay marriage. In his book released just nine months ago, "Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington," the governor strongly defended states' rights, saying the high court overstepped its bounds by overruling a Connecticut law banning birth control pills and a Texas law prohibiting sodomy. He also predicted that its justices would eventually issue a ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide.
"Gay marriage will soon be the policy of the United States, irrespective of federalism, the Constitution, or the wish of the American people," Perry wrote then.
In an earlier book, 2008's "On My Honor," Perry likened homosexuality to alcoholism.
"I can sympathize with those who believe sexual preference is genetic. It may be so, but it remains unproved. Even if it were, this does not mean we are ultimately not responsible for the active choices we make," he wrote. "Even if an alcoholic is powerless over alcohol once it enters his body, he still makes a choice to drink. And even if someone is attracted to a person of the same sex, he or she still makes a choice to engage in sexual activity with someone of the same gender."
In that same book, Perry wrote, "I do not believe in condemning homosexuals that I know personally. I believe in valuing their lives like any others, as our God in heaven does.
"Tolerance, however, should not only be asked of the proponents of traditional values," he continued. "The radical homosexual movement seeks societal normalization of their sexual activity. I respect their right to engage in the individual behavior of their choosing, but they must respect the rights of millions in society to refuse to normalize their behavior."