Gov. Perry Learns The Wrong Lesson From Backlash Over Anti-Gay Ad

December 09, 2011 10:45 am ET — Kate Conway

Gov. Rick Perry

Although public opinion is rapidly swinging in favor of LGBT rights, prominent conservatives cling to anti-gay sentiment and policy positions with greater and greater tenacity. GOP presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry (TX) went so far as to throw a gratuitous reference to his opposition to the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) into a recent ad. Here's the key quote:

PERRY: I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a Christian. But you don't need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.

Perry's ad has over 2.7 million views on YouTube, but people aren't reacting very positively. As of Friday morning, the ad had earned over 400,000 "dislikes," and only 9,896 "likes." Here's what that ratio looks like, courtesy of YouTube, with the proportion of people who reacted favorably in green:

Rick Perry video likes and dislikes

You might think this would clue Perry in to the idea that attacking gay people doesn't pay. Yet it appears that the first lesson Perry learned was of a different nature: According to the Houston Chronicle, Perry's newest ad has disabled the "like" and "dislike" buttons.

Perry's campaign team learned something from that national controversy.

On their latest ad, they've disabled the "like" and "dislike" buttons that viewers can use to rate YouTube videos.

In Perry's newest ad, the Texas governor is reining the hate down on President Obama's universal health insurance legislation, taking down anyone remotely related to federal mandates.

Perhaps Perry has picked up cues on how to tiptoe around his homophobia more cautiously, but he hasn't abandoned his anti-gay backbone. According to the New York Times, yesterday he stopped short of saying that he would force the discharge of openly gay soldiers if DADT were reinstated, but also didn't say he'd let them continue to serve: "I think you go back and you have that conversation with the civilian leaders and the military leaders on how you want to deal with them."

There's little to indicate that Perry will take YouTube users' rejection of his ad to heart, given that the ad was originally created over the objections of some of his top staff. The Huffington Post reported that the anti-gay ad stirred controversy within his campaign, which contains several people who "have worked to advance LGBT causes inside the GOP."