Battle Over Marriage: Rick Santorum Unleashes on Rick Perry for Gay Marriage Stance

By MichaelJames

Jul 30, 2011 12:25am

ABC News' Arlette Saenz (@ArletteSaenz) reports:

DENVER — Presidential candidate Rick Santorum attacked potential 2012 contender Gov. Rick Perry’s stance on gay marriage in Denver Friday night, telling reporters he and the Texas governor have a clear “difference of opinion.”

“I believe that marriage is not 50 things.  You can’t have different marriage laws in different states.  Ultimately, marriage is what marriage is,” Santorum told reporters before a book signing in Denver Friday evening.

Santorum continued the assault on Perry’s gay marriage position in his speech at the Western Conservative Summit Friday night.

“States do not have the right to destroy the American family.  It is your business,” Santorum said.  “It is not fine with me that New York has destroyed marriage.  It is not fine with me that New York is setting a template that will cause great division in this country.”

Santorum was referring to Rick Perry’s comment last week that he was fine with New York’s decision to allow gay marriage because it was a decision that should be decided by the states.

“Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That's New York, and that's their business, and that's fine with me," Perry said last week at a speech in Aspen, Colo. "That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business."

Perry, who is anti-gay marriage, walked back the comment on Thursday saying there should have been an addendum to his statement and expressed support for a federal marriage amendment.

“I probably needed to add a few words after that ‘it’s fine with me,’ and that it’s fine with me that a state is using their sovereign rights to decide an issue. Obviously gay marriage is not fine with me. My stance hasn’t changed,” Perry told Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council Thursday.

He attempted to reiterate this argument Friday night at the Western Conservative Summit.

“I said the other day that the 10th amendment frees New York state to define marriage as they please, but the traditional definition suits Texas and this governor just fine,” Perry said.

Perry’s commitment to upholding the 10th amendment has stirred discussion about how he would deal with issues like gay marriage and abortion on the national level.

Earlier in the week, Perry, a pro-life advocate, categorized abortion as an issue that should be handled by the states.

“You either have to believe in the 10th Amendment or you don’t,” Perry told reporters after a bill signing in Houston Wednesday.  “You can’t believe in the 10th Amendment for a few issues and then [for] something that doesn’t suit you say, 'We’d rather not have states decide that.'”

The Susan B. Anthony List released a statement Friday urging Perry to commit to defending pro-life initiatives on the national level.

“We agree that certainly there is a lot that can be done at the state level to reduce the number of abortions, but that does not diminish or eliminate the federal government’s responsibility to protect human life in all of its stages,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said in a statement. “His signature on our pledge will be a welcome addition. We are also anticipating his clarification that if elected he will continue his fight for life at the national level.”

Perry did not entertain questions from reporters on Friday.

The Texas governor’s speech touted the economic accomplishments of Texas and was centered upon anti-Washington rhetoric.

“It’s up to us to arrest our nation’s downward spiral brought on my too much spending, too much interfering, too much deference to special interest.   It’s time for us to stage another sagebrush rebellion, band together, push back on Washington’s endless overreach,” Perry said.

“Are we going to roll over?” he asked the crowd.  “Are we going to fold?”

Perry and Santorum both participated in a book signing Friday afternoon that was fraught with discomfort.  Several hundred people attended the book signing, but most had copies of the Texas governor’s book, Fed Up! in hand while Santorum was at a nearby table greeting attendees and signing more summit programs than he was copies of his book, It Takes A Family.  The two did not address each other while they were in the room despite sitting feet away from one another.

When asked by one attendee if he’s going to run for president, Perry responded, “We’ll let you know soon.”

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