WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Gay Republicans ripped party presidential hopeful Rick Perry for what they say is hostility toward gays and lesbians and disrespect for gays in the military.
Supporters of the Texas governor say a provocative television ad and press statement reflect Perry's beliefs but acknowledged the calculation behind what gay groups charge is an appeal evangelicals and social conservatives in Iowa ahead of the Jan. 3 caucuses, The Hill reported Friday.
"They certainly are showing desperation. We're seeing the end times of the Perry campaign," said Jimmy LaSalvia, co-founder of GOProud, a group representing gay Republicans. "This is a strategy that plays to a very, very small minority -- playing to the cheap seats is what it is."
Perry has fallen from contender status to single digits in national polling in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, Perry responded to President Obama's directive to U.S. diplomats and foreign aid workers to prioritize human rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
"Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America's interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers' money," Perry said in a statement, calling homosexuality "a lifestyle many Americas of faith find so deeply objectionable."
On Wednesday, Perry's campaign released a TV ad pointing up his Christian faith.
"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 says in the ad.
The head of Log Cabin Republicans, another major group of gay conservatives, called out Perry for drawing a false link between one's faith and supporting equality in the military.
The Hill said Perry's campaign did not respond to a comment request.
An adviser to one of the political action groups supporting Perry said the candidate's moves were an attempt to rouse a key voting bloc in the first-in-the-nation caucuses for Perry.
"I'm surprised, but it makes sense," the adviser told The Hill. "He's got a short window to start moving numbers. The way to move them in Iowa is to go socially conservative."