On August 6, Texas Governor Rick Perry will partner with the American Family Association to host a mass prayer and fasting rally at Reliant Stadium in Houston called The Response. According to its official home page, the event hopes to draw people "to pray for a historic breakthrough for our country and a renewed sense of moral purpose." The Texas Tribune reports that Perry, who might take a stab at running for the Republican presidential ticket, has no problem being linked to the anti-gay hate group.
Perry spokesman Mark Miner said the governor had been planning the event since December and was comfortable with the Tupelo, Miss.-based AFA as a host of the social conservative extravaganza. AFA is picking up the tab for the event, including the rental of Reliant Stadium in Houston, home to the NFL's Houston Texans.
"This is an organization that promotes safe and strong families," Miner said. "The governor looks forward to participating in this prayer service." Perry invited all of the nation's governors and various religious leaders to attend the Aug. 6 event. So far, Sam Brownback of Kansas, who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, is the only governor who has confirmed he will attend. Miner said there would be more announcements about attendees forthcoming. The announcement of the event has heightened speculation that Perry is courting religious conservatives on his way to a run for the White House. Perry said he'd think more about a presidential bid at the end of the special legislative session, which is now entering its second week.
National Stonewall Democrats criticizes Perry: “If there is a worse partner than the American Family Association for Texas Governor Rick Perry’s day of prayer event, I certainly can’t think of one. As a certified hate group hell-bent on rolling back every bit of progress lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have made, this is certainly not going to be an uplifting event for LGBT Texans, especially those of faith. Rick Perry’s presidential aspirations seem to be getting the best of him. Rather than organize an event worthy of all Texans, he has chosen to ally himself with the deep pockets of the AFA. Let’s hope the 49 other governors he has invited turn down their invitations."
A protest rally will be held at the stadium on the day of the event. A Facebook page has been set up here.
The Human Rights Campaign, which has slammed Perry for his association with the AFA, has created an epetition. Sign it here.
Watch a KXAN news report about Perry and the AFA, AFTER THE JUMP.