Here's something that comes as a surprise. Rick Perry, the Texas governor and former presidential candidate who wants to end Obama's war on religion, released a statement expressing his support for a group of Texas A&M students who formed a human chain around a soldier's funeral to protect the ceremony from the hateful signs of the Westboro Baptist Church. The deceased, Lt. Col. Roy Tisdale, was an alum of the university, as is Rick Perry, and 650 students gathered to make sure his funeral was not interrupted by the group of religious fundamentalists who like to protest solider funerals with belligerent anti-gay messages.
It's an interesting move for a politician so staunchly anti-gay and pro-religion, isn't it?
To say that Perry is conservative is an understatement. The man's campaign ad from this winter where he says "you know there's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas" is about as right wing as it gets, promising that if elected, he'd "fight liberal attacks on our religious heritage."
And now, eight months later, Perry is supporting the protest of a church. A church that's anti-gay, much like he is. I should hope any intolerance Perry has for homosexuality doesn't come anywhere near that of the WBC, but still. It's shocking that Perry even bothered to have his office release a statement showing support for the Aggies against the WBC.
Shocking, but not at all unwelcome. This is the man who signed a pledge that was all for a federal ban of same sex marriage, and once compared homosexuality to alcoholism. Perry's defense of the students doesn't outweigh all the anti-gay remarks and resolutions he's made over the years, but it's a start. And yes, it's an easy route to come out against the WBC since almost everyone hates them, but again, you gotta start somewhere.
I don't think this is some beginning of a new Perry who's more tolerant of alternative lifestyles, but I do think it's a nice, unexpected wrinkle in his political fabric.
What do you think of Perry's defense of the students against the Westboro Baptist Church?
Photo via eschipul/Flickr