For the record, former Texas governor and current Energy Secretary Rick Perry did not disparage Texas A&M – his alma mater – for electing their first gay student body president.
I’ve seen several headlines from mainstream media outlets that pop out at the reader, meant to rake the conscience of those with low-attention spans and liberal bents.
For example, the USA Today headline from yesterday reads: “Rick Perry calls Texas A&M election of gay student president ‘stolen’”
There you go. Rick Perry hates gay people. The school election was stolen because a gay student won.
Except that’s not how it went.
The backstory surrounding the student body president race has more to do with why the other kid lost.
The race was between two students, Bobby Brooks, the gay kid, and Robert McIntosh, the son of a Republican fundraiser from Dallas.
Perry shared his views on the election in a column titled “Did A&M favor diversity over right to due process?” that was published in the Thursday edition of the Houston Chronicle.
Initially, the former Texas governor said he was “proud” that the student body had elected an openly gay man president “because the election appeared to demonstrate a commitment to treating every student equally, judging on character rather than on personal characteristics.”
But Brooks got 750 fewer votes than McIntosh, and unlike national elections, school elections do rely on the popular vote.
McIntosh was disqualified over charges of voter intimidation and for not providing the receipts for glow sticks used in a campaign video, the Chronicle reported. The intimidation charges were dismissed on appeal, but the glow stick charges stuck.
Perry wrote that “at best” the disqualification “made a mockery of due process and transparency.”
“The desire of the electorate is overturned, and thousands of student votes are disqualified because of free glow sticks that appeared for 11 seconds of a months-long campaign,” wrote Perry, who himself served twice as an “Aggie Yell Leader” (they lead students in yelling at athletic events).
Get that? Free glow sticks, but because he didn’t hand over a receipt (they were free… he didn’t spend anything on them), he was disqualified.
Perry’s concern was a valid one.
McIntosh was the clear winner and the notion that his use of glow sticks in a campaign video should be enough to toss out those votes in his favor and to hand the student body presidency to his opponent makes Brooks’ win far less historic, and far more suspicious.
Secretary Perry went on:
“What if McIntosh had been a minority student instead of a white male?” Perry wondered. “Would the student body have allowed a black student body president to be disqualified on anonymous charges of voter intimidation?”
“The outcome would have been different if the victim was different,” Perry concluded.
His point is very valid, and has nothing to do with accusing Mr. Brooks, but everything to do with calling out his alma mater for penalizing the actual winner of the election for not being a minority or a member of a fringe “protected” class.
Seriously, guys… glow sticks?
Texas A&M spokeswoman Amy Smith said in a statement that the school appreciated Perry’s “long-term commitment to his alma mater and to the state in general” but added, “we were surprised that he weighed in on the university student body election and respectfully disagree with his assessment.”
And really, that’s what it is. In his off-duty time, as a private citizen and a proud Aggie, Perry penned an op-ed over what he saw as an unjust move, which unfairly penalized a young man, and signaled to the student body that their votes count for nothing.
So when you see those sensational headlines that make it seem as if Rick Perry hates gay people, that’s not the case.
The reality is far less shocking.