Gov. Rick Perry rallied opponents of gay marriage and abortion on Tuesday, calling for support for what he called traditional values on the same day the U.S. Supreme Court heard a challenge to California's ban on gay marriage.
About 200 social conservatives gathered at noon on the Texas Capitol's south steps to show their support for more laws based on Christian beliefs. The event was organized by a group called Texas Values, and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and other Republican leaders also spoke to the demonstrators before they fanned out to lobby lawmakers.
The group says it wants to limit no-fault divorce, discourage premarital sex, promote abstinence education and protect the state's Christian heritage.
Perry prides himself on his social conservatism.
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"This is a very unsettling time in our nation's history," the state's longest-serving governor said. "These are the days when a person is vilified when they state that they believe fundamentally that marriage is between one man and one woman."
Perry was the driving force behind a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Texas. He also signed a law to protect religious expression in schools and supports legislation that would make abortions more difficult to obtain in the state.
He has been critical of federal judges overruling state laws. The Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday on whether a federal appeals court was correct in throwing out a voter-supported California law banning gay marriage after the state briefly allowed it.
Perry said the Court was "deciding if it is OK to trump the votes of our citizens and state capitols to again judiciously legislate morality."
"The underlying problem is that there is this very vocal, very litigious minority of Americans willing to legally attack anybody who dares utter a phrase or even a name that they don't agree with," Perry said. "In a twisting of logic, they insist on silencing the religious in the cause of tolerance. Now I ask you, where is the tolerance in that?"
Religious politicians should be allowed to rely on their faith when determining the country's laws, he added.
Perry ran for president in 2012 and has said he will decide later this year whether to run again in 2016. He also has promised to announce in June whether he will run for governor again in 2014 for an unprecedented fourth full term.
Other Republican politicians who addressed the rally touted tighter restrictions on abortions and sex education. The Legislature is considering requirements for abortion clinics that could cause most to shut down and banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.