Gov. Bill Haslam has gotten attention for not having plans to attend an Aug. 6 prayer rally in Houston hosted by Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the American Family Association — an event that has drawn criticism for AFA’s anti-gay activism.
Haslam and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were also noted in a report in the Washington Independent for their decision to skip the event at Reliant Stadium. The American Family Association is known for advocating Christian values but has become controversial in part because of its strong stand against homosexuals.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal are the only governors scheduled to attend with Perry thus far. The event — titled, “The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis” — is billed as a day of prayer and fasting. Perry has invited all of the nation’s governors to the event.
The Independent report referred to a Haslam staffer saying the governor has a prior commitment, which was unidentified. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has also been noted for having no plans to attend, as have Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.
Perry is a source of speculation about a potential run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. He is chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
Haslam was criticized by GLBT advocates in May for signing a bill from the Tennessee General Assembly that prohibits local governments from imposing anti-discrimination practices in ways that go beyond state law. Nashville’s Metro Council had approved an ordinance that required city contractors to follow rules against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Haslam headed a group of state leaders at an annual prayer breakfast in Nashville in April. That event was held at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena.
Perry’s invitation to The Response says, “As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy.”