Spox: Rick Perry Still Opposes Supreme Court Ruling on Gay Sex

| Fri Dec. 30, 2011 2:54 PM EST

Rick Perry stumbled on Thursday when he asked by a voter whether he still opposed the 2003 Supreme Court's ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down his state’s statute prohibiting homosexual conduct—gay sex, in other words. At the time of the ruling, Perry had defended the law, telling reports, "I think our law is appropriate that we have on the books." In his 2010 book Fed Up!, Perry included Lawrence in a list of cases he believes were wrongly decided.

But when the topic came up in Iowa, he drew a blank, and instead segued into a very broad answer about states' rights:

He ultimately admitted that he couldn't remember what Lawrence was about, telling reporters, "I'm not taking the bar exam." That drew a swift response from Perry's biggest rival in Iowa, Rick Santorum, whose passionate opposition to the Lawrence decision inspired sex columnist Dan Savage to redefine his name. As Santorum put it: "Rulings like Lawrence v. Texas would be a good thing to know if you are running for president."

But if Perry's memory failed, he hasn't changed his views any. Pressed on Thursday in Marshalltown on why he opposed hospital visitation rights for gay couples, Perry explained, in a blunt ending to a roundabout answer: "Listen, I love the sinner, I hate the sin." I asked his spokeswoman, Catherine Frazier on Friday whether, given his foggy response the day before, the Governor still opposed Lawrence. Answer: Absolutely. "The remarks in his book are still the case," Frazier said. As for Thursday's slip-up: "It was part of a point about the 10th Amendment."

It's not the first time the Governor—who leans heavily on notecards when he's on the stump—has done a faceplant. (Perry, for his part, acknowledges that "I'm not good at Jeopardy or encyclopedia.") But it's worth taking a step back and pointing out that, in 2011, two top contenders in the Iowa caucuses believe states should have the right to criminalize homosexual conduct.