Tony Perkins (politician)

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Tony Perkins
Tony Perkins 1.jpg
4th President of the Family Research Council
Assumed office
September 1, 2003
Preceded byKenneth L. Connor[1]
Vice Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
Assumed office
June 16, 2020
Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
In office
June 17, 2019 – June 16, 2020
Preceded byTenzin Dorjee
Succeeded byGayle Manchin
Member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
Assumed office
May 14, 2018
Appointed byMitch McConnell
Member of the Louisiana House of Representatives
from the 64th district
In office
January 3, 1996[2] – January 12, 2004[3]
Preceded byMike McCleary
Succeeded byBodi White
Personal details
Anthony Richard Perkins

(1963-03-20) March 20, 1963 (age 57)
Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Lawana Perkins
Alma materLiberty University (BS)
Louisiana State University (MPA)

Anthony Richard Perkins (born March 20, 1963) is president of the Family Research Council, a self described Christian conservative policy and lobbying organization based in Washington, D.C.[4] Perkins, a Southern Baptist layman,[5] was previously a police officer and television reporter, served two terms as a Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 2002. On May 14, 2018, he was appointed to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.[6]

Early life and career[edit]

Perkins was born and raised in the northern Oklahoma city of Cleveland, and graduated in 1981 from Cleveland High School. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Liberty University.[7] He later earned a Master of Public Administration degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. After college, Perkins entered the United States Marine Corps.[7] Following his tour of duty, he became a Baton Rouge police officer and also worked with the U.S. State Department's Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program instructing hundreds of police officers from around the world.[7][8] Perkins later resigned from the police force.

Political career[edit]

Louisiana House of Representatives[edit]

Perkins won an open seat in the Louisiana House representing District 64 (the eastern Baton Rouge suburbs, including part of Livingston Parish) when he defeated Democrat Herman L. Milton of Baker 63% to 37% in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 21, 1995.[9] He was elected on a conservative platform of strong families and limited government. Four years later, he was reelected without opposition.[10] He retired from the legislature in 2004, fulfilling a promise to serve no more than two terms.[11]

While in office, Perkins authored legislation to require Louisiana public schools to install Internet filtering software, to provide daily silent prayer, and to prevent what he termed "censorship of America's Christian heritage".[12] Perkins also authored the nation's first covenant marriage law, a voluntary type of marriage that permits divorce only in cases of physical abuse, abandonment, adultery, imprisonment or after two years of separation.[7][13]

Perkins opposed casino gambling in Louisiana, calling a 1996 plan to restrict the location of gambling riverboats to one side of the river, "putting lipstick on a hog". It doesn't make the bill any better, it just looks a little better."[14] Perkins was described as "staunchly anti-abortion" by Public Broadcasting Service which also credited him with working on law and order and economic development issues while in the state house.[7] Perkins was instrumental in increasing state regulation of Louisiana abortion clinics; he sponsored a law to require state licensing and sanitary inspections.[4][15]

2002 U.S. Senate election[edit]

Perkins ran for the United States Senate in 2002 as a social and religious conservative Republican.[7] Louisiana's then-Governor, Murphy J. Foster Jr., and the National Republican Senatorial Committee backed other candidates.[7] Perkins finished in fourth place in the nonpartisan blanket primary with just under 10% of the vote.[4] The Democratic incumbent, Mary Landrieu, was re-elected in the general election against another Republican, Suzanne Haik Terrell.

2018 USCIRF Appointment[edit]

On May 14, 2018, he was appointed as one of nine commissioners to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).[6] His appointment was opposed by the Hindu American Foundation for his track record of "hateful stances against non-Christians."[16]

Political future[edit]

Perkins was floated as a potential Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate against Mary Landrieu in the 2014 election.[17] Despite strongly criticising Bill Cassidy, the main Republican challenger to Landrieu, as "pretty weak on the issues", Perkins said in an interview in January 2014 that he would not run against Landrieu. He did however express interest in running for David Vitter's U.S. Senate Seat, should Vitter be elected Governor of Louisiana in 2015.[18] Vitter lost the election and announced he would not run for re-election to the Senate, but Perkins declined to run in the 2016 election and endorsed John Fleming for the seat.[19]


Perkins with Mike Pence in 2017
Perkins speaking at a Ted Cruz Campaign Rally in 2016
Perkins at CPAC in 2015
Perkins with Steve Scalise in 2014
Perkins speaking at the annual Values Voter Summit in 2011
Perkins speaking at the Values Voter Summit conference in 2007
Perkins with Mike Pence in 2004.

Louisiana Family Forum[edit]

According to the Baptist Press, Perkins' "concern about the influence of the homosexual movement" led to his involvement in the 1998 founding of the Louisiana Family Forum, a conservative, faith-oriented, pro-life, and non-profit group.[20][21]

Family Research Council[edit]

In September 2003, Perkins withdrew from the race for Louisiana state insurance commissioner to become the president of the conservative Christian Family Research Council (FRC).[22] He replaced Ken Connor.[23] In addition to his duties as president of the FRC, Perkins hosts a radio program, Washington Watch with Tony Perkins.[24]

Perkins was involved in the 2005 controversy over the disconnection of life support for Terri Schiavo, a woman who had been in a "persistent vegetative state" for a number of years. After a final court order permitted Schiavo's husband to remove her feeding tube and thereby cause her to die, Perkins stated, "we should remember that her death is a symptom of a greater problem: that the courts no longer respect human life."[25]

In October 2008, Perkins called the passage of California Proposition 8 (which prohibited same sex marriage in the state) "more important than the presidential election", adding that the United States has survived despite picking bad presidents in the past but "we will not survive if we lose the institution of marriage."[26]

The Southern Poverty Law Center has determined that Family Research Council is an anti-LGBTQ hate group.[27]

Justice Sunday[edit]

In 2005, Perkins opposed the filibustering of certain right-leaning federal judicial nominees by U.S. Senate Democrats, arguing that the Democrats were waging a "campaign against orthodox religious views",[28] and that the judicial nominees were being persecuted for their Christian faith.[29] He became one of the organizers and hosts of Justice Sunday, a series of events that sought to mobilize the evangelical Christian base in support of the nominees.[29][30]

Views on LGBT issues[edit]

In 2010, Perkins opposed the overturning of the "Don't ask, don't tell" law that prohibited people who were openly gay or lesbian from serving in the U.S. military. Perkins argued that the repeal would, among other things, infringe on the religious liberty of military chaplains and other service members holding orthodox Christian views.[31]

In 2006, Perkins urged Congress to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which would define marriage in the United States as the union between one man and one woman.[32][33] He explained his reasoning in a 2006 Human Events column:

The definition … is rooted in the order of nature itself. It promotes the continuation of the human race and the cooperation of a mother and a father in raising the children they produce. This union can only be protected through amending the United States Constitution. If it's not, activists will continue using the courts to sell a five-legged dog.[34]

Perkins believes natural disasters are divine punishments for homosexuality. When Perkins' own home was flooded in August 2016, news outlets noted the irony.[35][36]


Perkins opposes any increases in the minimum wage, which he stated in a book that he cowrote with Harry Jacobson in 2008.[citation needed]

In 2014, Perkins released an editorial explaining why he supports Israel.[37]

In 2016, Perkins endorsed Ted Cruz for the Republican presidential nomination.[38]

Perkins is also the past president of the Council for National Policy.[39]


On May 17, 2001, Perkins gave a speech to the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a white supremacist group that has described black people as a "retrograde species of humanity".[40] Perkins claimed not to know the group's ideology at the time, but it had been widely publicized in Louisiana and the nation, just two years earlier. In an April 26, 2005, article in The Nation, reporter Max Blumenthal revealed that in 1996 while managing the unsuccessful U. S. Senate campaign of Woody Jenkins, Perkins "paid former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,500 for his mailing list." Despite Perkins' denials the document authorizing the payment carried Perkins' signature. The Duke incident surfaced again in the local press in 2002, when Perkins ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate.[41]

In 2007, Perkins opposed the first ever Hindu prayer before the United States Senate saying that "There is no historic connection between America and the polytheistic creed of the Hindu faith." He also opposed a US Marines yoga and meditation program for PTSD prevention terming the Hindu and Buddhist practices as "goofy".[16]

In 2010, the Family Research Council—under Perkins' leadership—was classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) which characterized the group as "a fount of anti-gay propaganda".[42][43] Perkins dismissed the hate group designation as a political attack on the FRC by a "liberal organization" and as part of "the left's smear campaign of conservatives".[43]

In spring 2013, Perkins urged conservatives nationwide to withhold political contributions to the national Republican Party until the leadership "grows a backbone" and halts support for so many of the Democratic legislative initiatives.[44]

Perkins has also made statements critical of Islam. In September 2010, Perkins claimed that "the ultimate evil has been committed" when Muslims interpret the Quran in its literal context,[45] that Islam "tears at the fabric of democracy,"[46][47] and that World history classes dishonestly portray Islam in a positive light by providing an "airbrushed" portrait of the religion itself.[48]

In 2015, Perkins affirmed the debate over Obama's birth certificate as "legitimate", remarking that it "makes sense" to conclude that Obama was a Muslim.[49]

In 2017, Perkins was accused of covering up a 2015 sexual assault by Wesley Goodman, a political candidate the Council for National Policy raised money for.[50]

In 2018, Perkins was criticized for defending Donald Trump's behavior, saying he should be given a "Mulligan".[51]

Personal life[edit]

Perkins is married to Lawana Perkins (née Lee),[citation needed] with whom he has five children.[11] He has been affiliated with the National Rifle Association, the American Legion, the Christian Coalition, and the Baton Rouge Rescue Mission.[8]

Perkins' family was affected by the 2016 Louisiana floods, and had to evacuate their Louisiana home by canoe.[52] Their home was destroyed by the flooding.[53]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c Blumenthal, Max (May 23, 2005). "Good Cop, Bad Cop". The Nation. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
  5. ^ Foust, Michael, "Family Leader & Baptist in La., Named FRC President", Baptist Press, August 13, 2003. Accessed May 3, 2019.
  6. ^ a b "May 14, 2018 115th Congress, 2nd Session Issue: Vol. 164, No. 78 — Daily Edition". Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Banville, Lee (2002). "Vote 2002. State Rep. Tony Perkins (Republican)". PBS Online Newshour. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  8. ^ a b "House District 64". Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved November 14, 2009.
  9. ^ "Louisian election returns, October 21, 1995". Retrieved November 14, 2009.[dead link]
  10. ^ Dyer, Scott (October 9, 1999). "ELECTION '99 House District 64". The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.). p. 6 A.
  11. ^ a b "Biography, Tony Perkins, President". Family Research Council. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
  12. ^ Organization Profile: Family Research Council | Right Wing Watch. Retrieved on 2012-04-24.
  13. ^ Crary, David (February 11, 2001). "Love & Marriage". The Day (New London, Ct.). p. C8. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  14. ^ Dyer, Scott (April 21, 1996). "Gambling foes fear local-option bill no improvement. Movement limit called merely "lipstick on hog"". The Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. p. 23–a.
  15. ^ "Clinics brought under state licensing". The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.). June 2, 1999.
  16. ^ a b "Appointment of Far-Right Evangelist Tony Perkins Strains Credibility of USCIRF". Hindu American Foundation. 2018-05-16. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  17. ^ Social conservatives make big money plans Politico
  18. ^ Mollie Reilly (January 22, 2013). "Tony Perkins Suggests He May Run For David Vitter's Senate Seat: 'I Never Say Never'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  19. ^ Roarty, Alex; Yoakley, Eli (February 26, 2016). "Tony Perkins to Endorse John Fleming in Louisiana Senate Race". Roll Call. Retrieved February 28, 2016.
  20. ^ Foust, Michael (August 13, 2003). "Tony Perkins, pro-family leader & Baptist in La., named FRC president". Baptist Press. Archived from the original on April 15, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
  21. ^ Nossiter, Adam (June 2, 2008). "n Louisiana, Inklings of a New (True) Champion of the Right". The New York Times.
  22. ^ "Covenant-marriage author to lead conservative group. Family Research Council board names Louisiana lawmaker to post". The Washington Times. August 14, 2003.
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Washington Watch, Live Daily with Tony Perkins, radio program". Retrieved October 15, 2007.
  25. ^ Milbank, Dana (April 1, 2005). "GOP, Democrats Look for Symbolism in Schiavo Case". Washington Post. p. A12.
  26. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (October 26, 2008). "A Line in the Sand for Same-Sex Marriage Foes". The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2012.
  27. ^ "Family Research Council". SPLC Hate Watch. Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  28. ^ Perkins, Tony (May 14, 2005). "It Is About Religious Belief". Washington Post.
  29. ^ a b Blumenthal, Max (2010-07-13). Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party. Nation Books. pp. 140–. ISBN 978-1-56858-417-1. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  30. ^ Helguero, Francis (August 15, 2005). "'Justice Sunday II' Calls on Evangelicals to Action". The Christian Post. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  31. ^ Marshall, Kelly (May 27, 2010). "Tony Perkins: Repealing 'don't ask, don't tell' threatens military chaplains". CNN. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  32. ^ Tony Perkins, "Connecticut Fails to Connect with People on Marriage," Washington Update, Family Research Council, April 14, 2005.
  33. ^ Whitlock, Reta Ugena (2007-01-01). This Corner of Canaan: Curriculum Studies of Place & the Reconstruction of the South. Peter Lang. pp. 151–. ISBN 978-0-8204-8651-2. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  34. ^ Perkins, Tony (July 21, 2006). "Congress Fails Americans on Marriage". Human Events. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  35. ^ US pastor, who believes floods are God's punishment, flees flooded home. BBC. August 18, 2016
  36. ^ A Man Who Says God Punishes Gays with Natural Disasters Had His Home Destroyed in the Flood. Esquire. August 18, 2016
  37. ^ "Tony Perkins: My Journey to the Holy Land, Spending Time In Bomb Shelters and Why America Needs to Support Israel".
  38. ^ Teddy Schleifer. "Tony Perkins backs Ted Cruz". Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  39. ^
  40. ^ Perry, Barbara (2009-03-05). Hate Crimes. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 110–. ISBN 978-0-275-99569-0. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
  41. ^ Fargen, Jessica (October 16, 2006). "Attack on Gay Marriage". Boston Herald. Archived from the original on May 24, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
  42. ^ "18 Anti-Gay Groups and Their Propaganda". Southern Poverty Law Center, Winter 2010. Archived from the original on May 17, 2012. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  43. ^ a b Thompson, Krissah (November 24, 2010). "'Hate group' designation angers same-sex marriage opponents". Washington Post. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  44. ^ "Tony Perkins: 'Don't Give a Dime to GOP' Until It Clarifies Positions". Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  45. ^ Parker Spitzer. CNN. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  46. ^ Tashman, Brian (September 12, 2014). "Tony Perkins: US Constitution Doesn't Protect Muslims". Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  47. ^ Perkins, Tony (September 11, 2014). "Washington Watch". Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  48. ^ Perkins, Tony (September 18, 2014). "America Will Perish Without a Vision to Defeat ISIS". Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  49. ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi. "My President Was Black: A history of the first African American White House--and of what came next". The Atlantic. Retrieved December 15, 2016.
  50. ^ Kindy, Kimberly; Viebeck, Elise (November 17, 2017). "How a conservative group dealt with a fondling charge against a rising GOP star". Retrieved November 19, 2017 – via
  51. ^ Edward-Isaac Dovere (January 23, 2018). "Tony Perkins: Trump Gets 'a Mulligan' on Life, Stormy Daniels". Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  52. ^ Louisiana Flood Strips Evangelical Political Leader of Everything; Family Evacuated in Canoe, Living in Motorhome Christian Post
  53. ^ Nelson, Kate (August 18, 2016). "Louisiana floods destroy home of Christian leader who says God sends natural disasters to punish gay people". The Independent. London. Retrieved August 27, 2017.

External links[edit]

Louisiana House of Representatives
Preceded by
Mike McCleary
Member of the Louisiana House of Representatives
from the 64th district

Succeeded by
Bodi White
Cultural offices
Preceded by
Kenneth L. Connor
President of the Family Research Council