A lifelong friend of Texas Gov. Rick Perry claims a recent Washington Post report detailing the involvement of the Republican presidential candidate's family in the lease of a West Texas hunting camp known as "Niggerhead" inaccurately portrays his buddy.
The New Republic, a national liberal magazine based in Washington, D.C., quotes Dallas banker Riley Couch as saying Perry is "just not like that," when it comes to racial prejudice.
In his more than 50 years of friendship wth Perry, he has never heard the governor use a racial slur, said Couch, who was born in Haskell County where Perry also grew up.
Couch was in the same Boy Scout Troop, graduated from Texas A&M and sold Bible books in Missouri during college summers with Perry. The Dallas banker, whose father owned a West Texas bank, has been a strong supporter of the governor's political career, and Perry appointed Couch to the Finance Commission of Texas in 2009 to a term that expires in 2012.
Perry, who was a yell leader at Texas A&M, is the longest continuously serving governor in the history of Texas. He is a favorite of conservative religious groups, and he professes strong religious beliefs.
Perry, who is generally recognized by LGBT activists as the most virulently outspoken anti-gay governor in the history of Texas, has been plagued by rumors that he is gay since 2006. Before he announced his presidential candidacy his advisors acknowledged they were ready to address the rumors.
In an e-mail message today to The Rare Reporter, Couch said the rumors Perry is gay are unfounded. "No, I firmly believe he is straight," said Couch, who is straight and has a daughter by a previous marriage.
Numerous people from Haskell County, both gay and straight, have said in interviews over the years that they had never heard anything about Perry being gay or saw anything that made them suspect he was. But rumors persist in Austin that Perry had male lovers dating back to the mid-1980s when he was elected to the Texas Legislature.
Several national media outlets have launched investigations about the allegations Perry is gay but so far none have produced any stories indicating he has had a secret gay live. Hustler Magazine recently offered a $1 million reward for anyone male or female who could prove they had sex with Perry after he was married to his wife Anita, who is also from Haskell County, in 1982.
Despite the governor's well-known record of opposition to the passage of any laws granting equality or anti-discrimination protection to Texas' LGBT residents, Couch said he believes the governor would treat gay and lesbian employees on his staff fairly.
"He would not treat a gay any different than a straight, I firmly believe," said Couch, who reportedly received numerous media inquiries today in regard to the Washington Post story.
Couch added that he had never heard the governor speak disparingly about LGBT people.
"I have been in many, many social, business and other settings with him over the years. I have never heard him make a crude joke, derogatory statement or use demeaning words to describe any gay individual or lifestyle," Couch said.
Couch said he suspects the governor supports equal rights for all individuals, short of marriage equality rights. Perry has repeatedly said that he believes marriage should be limited to union between men and women only.
"I just cannot picture Rick discriminating in the workplace or his appointments because an individual chooses a different lifestyle. I don't think he would ask or care, as he shouldn't ask or care."
Read The New Republic online article at: http://www.tnr.com/blog/the-stump/95697/hes-just-not