Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a possible presidential candidate and arguably one of the nation's most socially conservative governors, said over the weekend that he supports New York's right to allow same-sex marriage, citing states' rights.
"Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That's New York, and that's their business, and that's fine with me," Perry told a group of Republicans during a forum sponsored by the Aspen Institute in Colorado. "That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business."
Hundreds of gay couples held marriage ceremonies in New York on Sunday, the first day the state's new law went into effect.
Perry still opposes policies that open the door to same-sex marriage--he signed an amendment to the Texas state constitution in 2005 outlawing gay unions--but he does not support a federal law banning it throughout the country.
His emphasis on home rule would distinguish him from several GOP presidential hopefuls if he were to run, including current front-runners Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann. During a debate in June, five GOP contenders said they would support an amendment to the United States Constitution that would overturn state laws allowing same-sex marriage.
Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, one of the supporters of the federal marriage amendment, fired back at Perry within a few hours.
"So Gov Perry, if a state wanted to allow polygamy or if they chose to deny heterosexuals the right to marry, would that be OK too?" he asked on Twitter.
Perry has said in the past that he supports states' rights to enact laws he disagrees with, including the legalization of marijuana.
"I totally and completely disagree with the concept of legalizing marijuana," Perry told National Public Radio last November while California voters were about to vote on a measure lifting the ban in their state. "But it ought to be California's decision."
"If you want to live in a state that has high taxes, high regulations — that is favorable to smoking marijuana and gay marriage — then move to California," he added.