Tony Perkins (politician)

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Tony Perkins
Tony Perkins 1.jpg
Member of the Louisiana House of Representatives
from the 64th district
In office
1996–2004
Preceded byMike McCleary
Succeeded byBodi White
Personal details
BornAnthony Richard Perkins
(1963-03-20) March 20, 1963 (age 51)
Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Lawana Lee
Children5
Alma materLiberty University
Louisiana State University, Baton Rogue
ReligionSouthern Baptist
 
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For other people named Tony Perkins, see Tony Perkins (disambiguation).
Tony Perkins
Tony Perkins 1.jpg
Member of the Louisiana House of Representatives
from the 64th district
In office
1996–2004
Preceded byMike McCleary
Succeeded byBodi White
Personal details
BornAnthony Richard Perkins
(1963-03-20) March 20, 1963 (age 51)
Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Lawana Lee
Children5
Alma materLiberty University
Louisiana State University, Baton Rogue
ReligionSouthern Baptist

Anthony Richard "Tony" Perkins (born March 20, 1963) is president of the Family Research Council, a Christian right think tank, public policy and lobbying organization based in Washington, D.C.[1] Perkins was previously a police officer and television reporter, served two terms as a Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 2002.

Early life and career[edit]

Perkins was born and reared in the northern Oklahoma city of Cleveland and graduated in 1981 from Cleveland High School. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Liberty University, a private Evangelical Christian university in Lynchburg, Virginia, established by the late Reverend Jerry Falwell.[2] He later earned a Master of Public Administration degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. After college, Perkins entered the United States Marine Corps.[2] Following his tour of duty, he became a Baton Rouge police officer and also worked with the U.S. State Department's Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program instructing hundreds of police officers from around the world.[2][3] Perkins resigned from the police force in 1992 due to a disagreement over reporting and police tactics in containing anti-abortion protests by Operation Rescue.[1] Perkins also worked at WBTR-TV, an independent Baton Rouge television station, as a reporter and later as news director.[2][3] He stayed there until his election to the legislature.

Political career[edit]

Louisiana House of Representatives[edit]

Perkins won an open seat in the Louisiana House representing District 64 (the eastern Baton Rouge suburbs, including part of Livingston Parish) when he defeated Democrat Herman L. Milton of Baker 63 percent to 37 percent in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 21, 1995.[4] He was elected on a traditional conservative platform of strong families and limited government. Four years later, he was reelected without opposition.[5] He retired from the legislature in 2004 and fulfilled a promise to serve no more than two terms.[6]

While in office, Perkins authored legislation to require Louisiana public schools to install Internet filtering software, to provide daily silent prayer, and to prevent what he termed "censorship of America's Christian heritage."[7] Notably, Perkins also authored the nation's first covenant marriage law, a voluntary type of marriage that permits divorce only in cases of physical abuse, abandonment, adultery, imprisonment or after two years of separation.[2][8]

Perkins opposed casino gambling in Louisiana, calling a 1996 plan to restrict the location of gambling riverboats to one side of the river, "putting lipstick on a hog". It doesn't make the bill any better, it just looks a little better."[9] Perkins was described as "staunchly anti-abortion" by Public Broadcasting Service which also credited him with working on law and order and economic development issues while in the state house.[2] Perkins was instrumental in increasing state regulation of Louisiana abortion clinics; he sponsored a law to require state licensing and sanitary inspections.[1][10]

2002 U.S. Senate election[edit]

Perkins ran for the United States Senate in 2002 as a social and religious conservative Republican.[2] Louisiana's then-Governor, Murphy J. Foster, Jr., and the National Republican Senatorial Committee backed other candidates.[2] Perkins finished in fourth place in the jungle primary with just under 10% of the vote.[1] The Democratic incumbent, Mary Landrieu, was re-elected in the general election against another Republican, Suzanne Haik Terrell.

Political future[edit]

Perkins was floated as a potential Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate against Mary Landrieu in the 2014 election.[11][12] Despite strongly criticising Bill Cassidy, the main Republican challenger to Landrieu, as "pretty weak on the issues", Perkins said in an interview in January 2014 that he would not run against Landrieu. He did however express interest in running for David Vitter's U.S. Senate Seat, should Vitter be elected Governor of Louisiana in 2015[13]

Activism[edit]

Louisiana Family Forum[edit]

According to the Baptist Press, Perkins' "concern about the influence of the homosexual movement" led to his involvement in the 1998 founding of the Louisiana Family Forum, a conservative faith-oriented, pro-life non-profit group.[14][15]

Family Research Council[edit]

Perkins speaking at the annual Values Voter Summit in October 2011.

In September 2003, Perkins withdrew from the race for Louisiana state insurance commissioner to become the President of the conservative Christian Family Research Council (FRC), a political offshoot of James Dobson's Focus on the Family.[16] In addition to his duties as president of the FRC, Perkins hosts an online program, Washington Watch Daily on FRC Radio.[17]

Perkins was involved in the 2005 controversy over the disconnection of life support for Terri Schiavo, a woman who had been in what the media called a "persistent vegetative state" for a number of years. After a final court order permitted Schiavo's husband to remove her feeding tube and thereby cause her to die, Perkins stated, "we should remember that her death is a symptom of a greater problem: that the courts no longer respect human life."[18]

In October 2008, Perkins called the passage of California Proposition 8 (which prohibited same sex marriage in the state) "more important than the presidential election", adding that the United States has survived despite picking bad presidents in the past but "we will not survive if we lose the institution of marriage."[19]

Justice Sunday[edit]

In 2005, Perkins opposed the filibustering of certain right-leaning federal judicial nominees by U.S. Senate Democrats, arguing that the Democrats were waging a "campaign against orthodox religious views",[20] and that the judicial nominees were being persecuted for their Christian faith.[21] He became one of the organizers and hosts of Justice Sunday, a series of events that sought to mobilize the evangelical Christian base in support of the nominees.[21][22]

Views on LGBT issues[edit]

In 2010, Perkins opposed the overturning of the "Don't ask, don't tell" law that prohibited people who were openly gay or lesbian from serving in the U.S. military. Perkins argued that the repeal would, among other things, infringe on the religious liberty of military chaplains and other service members holding orthodox Christian views.[23]

Perkins has criticized civil unions and has urged Congress to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which would define marriage in the United States as the union between one man and one woman.[24][25] He explained his reasoning in a 2006 Human Events column:

The definition ... is rooted in the order of nature itself. It promotes the continuation of the human race and the cooperation of a mother and a father in raising the children they produce. This union can only be protected through amending the United States Constitution. If it's not, activists will continue using the courts to sell a five-legged dog.[26]

Controversy[edit]

In 1996, while managing the U.S. Senate campaign of Woody Jenkins against Mary Landrieu, Perkins paid $82,500 to use the mailing list of former Ku Klux Klan leader and state representative David Duke.[27] The campaign was fined $3,000 for filing false disclosure forms in a bid to hide the payment to Duke.[28] Perkins has stated he did not know about the mailing list's connection to Duke.[27]

On May 17, 2001, Perkins gave a speech to the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a white supremacist group that has described black people as a "retrograde species of humanity".[29] Perkins claimed not to know the group's ideology at the time, but it had been widely publicized in Louisiana and the nation, just two years earlier. The Duke incident surfaced again in the local press in 2002, when Perkins ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate.[27]

In 2010, the Family Research Council—under Perkins' leadership—was classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center which characterized the group as "a fount of anti-gay propaganda".[30][31] Perkins dismissed the hate group designation as a political attack on the FRC by a "liberal organization" and as part of "the left's smear campaign of conservatives".[31] On December 15, 2010 the FRC ran an open letter advertisement in two Washington, D.C. newspapers disputing the SPLC's action. The letter included the signatures of social conservative politicians including twenty members of the House of Representatives (including then soon-to-be Speaker John Boehner), three U.S. senators, four state governors, and one state attorney general.[32]

In the spring of 2013, Perkins urged conservatives nationwide to withhold political contributions to the national Republican Party until the leadership "grows a backbone" and halts support for so many of the Democratic legislative initiatives.[33]

Personal life[edit]

Perkins is married to the former Lawana Lee with whom he has five children.[6] He has been affiliated with the National Rifle Association, the American Legion, the Christian Coalition, and the Baton Rouge Rescue Mission.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Blumenthal, Max (May 23, 2005). "Good Cop, Bad Cop". The Nation. Retrieved May 20, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Banville, Lee (2002). "Vote 2002. State Rep. Tony Perkins (Republican)". PBS Online Newshour. Retrieved May 21, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c "House District 64". enlou.com. Retrieved November 14, 2009. [dead link]
  4. ^ "Louisian election returns, October 21, 1995". sos.louisiana.gov. Retrieved November 14, 2009. [dead link]
  5. ^ Dyer, Scott (October 9, 1999). "ELECTION '99 House District 64". The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.). p. 6 A. 
  6. ^ a b "Biography, Tony Perkins, President". Family Research Council. Retrieved May 20, 2012. 
  7. ^ Organization Profile: Family Research Council | Right Wing Watch. Pfaw.org. Retrieved on 2012-04-24.
  8. ^ Crary, David (February 11, 2001). "Love & Marriage". The Day (New London, Ct.). p. C8. Retrieved May 21, 2012. 
  9. ^ Dyer, Scott (April 21, 1996). "Gambling foes fear local-option bill no improvement. Movement limit called merely "lipstick on hog"". The Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. p. 23-a. 
  10. ^ "Clinics brought under state licensing". The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.). June 2, 1999. 
  11. ^ Tony Perkins floated as possible candidate for Louisiana Senate seat The Daily Caller
  12. ^ Social conservatives make big money plans Politico
  13. ^ Mollie Reilly (January 22, 2013). "Tony Perkins Suggests He May Run For David Vitter's Senate Seat: 'I Never Say Never'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 12, 2014. 
  14. ^ Foust, Michael (August 13, 2003). "Tony Perkins, pro-family leader & Baptist in La., named FRC president". Baptist Press. Retrieved 20 May 2012. 
  15. ^ Nossiter, Adam (June 2, 2008). "n Louisiana, Inklings of a New (True) Champion of the Right". The New York Times. 
  16. ^ "Covenant-marriage author to lead conservative group. Family Research Council board names Louisiana lawmaker to post.". The Washington Times. August 14, 2003. 
  17. ^ "Washington Watch Daily online broadcast, Tony Perkins". Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  18. ^ Milbank, Dana (April 1, 2005). [Monday, May 21, 2012 3:08:58 PM "GOP, Democrats Look for Symbolism in Schiavo Case"]. Washington Post. p. A12. Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  19. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (October 26, 2008). "A Line in the Sand for Same-Sex Marriage Foes". The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  20. ^ Perkins, Tony (May 14, 2005). "It Is About Religious Belief". Washington Post. 
  21. ^ a b Blumenthal, Max (2010-07-13). Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party. Nation Books. pp. 140–. ISBN 9781568584171. Retrieved 20 May 2012. 
  22. ^ Helguero, Francis (August 15, 2005). "'Justice Sunday II' Calls on Evangelicals to Action". The Christian Post. Retrieved 20 May 2012. 
  23. ^ Marshall, Kelly (May 27, 2010). "Tony Perkins: Repealing 'don't ask, don't tell' threatens military chaplains". CNN. Retrieved May 21, 2012. 
  24. ^ Tony Perkins, "Connecticut Fails to Connect with People on Marriage," Washington Update, Family Research Council, April 14, 2005.
  25. ^ Whitlock, Reta Ugena (2007-01-01). This Corner of Canaan: Curriculum Studies of Place & the Reconstruction of the South. Peter Lang. pp. 151–. ISBN 9780820486512. Retrieved 20 May 2012. 
  26. ^ Perkins, Tony (July 21, 2006). "Congress Fails Americans on Marriage". Human Events. Retrieved 20 May 2012. 
  27. ^ a b c Fargen, Jessica (October 16, 2006). "Attack on Gay Marriage". Boston Herald. Retrieved 20 May 2012. 
  28. ^ Blumenthal, Max (April 26, 2005). "Justice Sunday Preachers". The Nation. Retrieved May 21, 2012. 
  29. ^ Perry, Barbara (2009-03-05). Hate Crimes. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 110–. ISBN 9780275995690. Retrieved 20 May 2012. 
  30. ^ "18 Anti-Gay Groups and Their Propaganda". Southern Poverty Law Center, Splcenter.org. Winter 2010. Retrieved May 21, 2012. 
  31. ^ a b Thompson, Krissah (November 24, 2010). "'Hate group' designation angers same-sex marriage opponents". Washington Post. Retrieved May 21, 2012. 
  32. ^ Boyle, Matthew (2010-12-15). "Family Research Council, top GOP lawmakers fight back against SPLC "hate group" label". The Daily Caller. Retrieved 2010-12-24. 
  33. ^ "Tony Perkins: 'Don't Give a Dime to GOP' Until It Clarifies Positions". newsmax.com. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Louisiana House of Representatives
Preceded by
Mike McCleary
Member of the Louisiana House of Representatives
from the 64th district

1996–2004
Succeeded by
Bodi White