Rick Perry: Yeah, I'd probably attend a gay wedding

Where do we stand on this so far among the GOP field? Rubio’s a yes, Santorum’s a no, Cruz is noncommittal, Walker said he’s already attended a gay-wedding reception but not an actual ceremony. Anyone I’m leaving out? People are dismissing it as a gotcha but I think it’s interesting as a gauge of whom each candidate’s trying to appeal to. The only real surprise among the five who have already answered is Cruz, whom I would have guessed would be a “no” to please social conservatives.

Free advice from Ben Domenech to the 300 Republican candidates who haven’t yet gotten this question: Use it to make a point about religious liberty.

[J]ust like the 2012 contraception question, it’s not about a pressing policy issue. It’s about trying to find a subject where the natural voter’s response is “what? Don’t be ridiculous”, but Republican candidates’ responses will be a fifteen minute discourse on the finer points of Griswold v. Connecticut.

“Would you attend a gay wedding” is a matter of personal conscience. But that’s why it’s such an obvious opportunity for turning the question back on the actual policy battle at issue, a bit of ju jitsu I haven’t seen from any of the respondents yet. The whole point is that it’s your decision whether to attend or not. Conservatives and (most) libertarians believe people ought to be able to decide whether to freely associate with others themselves, not be dragooned by the force of government into mandatory associations as the secular left maintains. The entire point of religious freedom laws in Indiana and elsewhere is that we want to give people who say “I cannot in good conscience participate in this ceremony” the right to defend themselves in court based on their deeply held beliefs. That used to be a bipartisan principle, and now it’s effectively a monopartisan one – but it’s the right principle. A Republican Party unwilling to defend it has been reduced from a party founded on the idea that no man should work and toil and earn bread where another eats it… to one only ready to smash their clay fire pots and raise a sword in the air for the cause of the Keystone Pipeline and the Medical Device Tax.

As I say, I’m not surprised Perry’s willing to attend. He became more of a “values” candidate near the end of his 2012 campaign as a last gasp to try to get back into the race, but this time he’s running as a jobs-creating executive who’s done his homework on national policy and is ready to lead. The last time he said something that offended gay-rights activists, in July 2014, he quickly walked it back so that he wouldn’t get typecast by the national media as a guy whose appeal lies mainly among social conservatives. From now on he’s the “economy candidate” who happens to also be a full-spectrum conservative. Is that enough to make a dent in the polls after the big 2012 fizzle? Watch the second clip below before you answer.