|4th President of the Family Research Council|
September 1, 2003
|Kenneth L. Connor|
|Member of the Louisiana House of Representatives|
from the 64th district
January 3, 1996 - January 12, 2004
Anthony Richard Perkins
March 20, 1963
Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.
|Alma mater||Liberty University|
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
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. Perkins, a Southern Baptist layman, 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.
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. 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. 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. Perkins later resigned from the police force.
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. He was elected on a conservative platform of strong families and limited government. Four years later, he was reelected without opposition. He retired from the legislature in 2004, fulfilling a promise to serve no more than two terms.
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". 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.
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." 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. Perkins was instrumental in increasing state regulation of Louisiana abortion clinics; he sponsored a law to require state licensing and sanitary inspections.
Perkins ran for the United States Senate in 2002 as a social and religious conservative Republican. Louisiana's then-Governor, Murphy J. Foster Jr., and the National Republican Senatorial Committee backed other candidates. Perkins finished in fourth place in the nonpartisan blanket primary with just under 10% of the vote. The Democratic incumbent, Mary Landrieu, was re-elected in the general election against another Republican, Suzanne Haik Terrell.
On May 14, 2018, he was appointed as one of nine commissioners to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). His appointment was opposed by the Hindu American Foundation for his track record of "hateful stances against non-Christians."
Perkins was floated as a potential Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate against Mary Landrieu in the 2014 election. 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. 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.
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.
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). He replaced Ken Connor. In addition to his duties as president of the FRC, Perkins hosts a radio program, Washington Watch with Tony Perkins.
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."
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."
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", and that the judicial nominees were being persecuted for their Christian faith. 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.
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.
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. 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.
Perkins opposes any increases in the minimum wage.
This article's Criticism or Controversy section may compromise the article's neutral point of view of the subject. (August 2016)
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". 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.
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".
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". 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".
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.
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, that Islam "tears at the fabric of democracy," and that World history classes dishonestly portray Islam in a positive light by providing an "airbrushed" portrait of the religion itself.
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.
Perkins is married to Lawana Perkins (née Lee), with whom he has five children. He has been affiliated with the National Rifle Association, the American Legion, the Christian Coalition, and the Baton Rouge Rescue Mission.