Updates: Petitions ask if cities may secede from Texas

After becoming known as the only governor in the United States to raise the specter of secession, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) backed away from the threat this week, explaining that he swears allegiance to the U.S. but agrees with the "frustrations" felt by many conservatives in the wake of Mitt Romney's decisive defeat.

To be clear, it's a common misconception among Texans that the state can secede; it cannot. The brutal deaths of more than 750,000 Americans during the Civil War decided that nearly 150 years ago, enabling President Andrew Johnson to sign a proclamation saying that no state will ever have the right to leave the Union.

That's not stopped more than 62,000 people -- many of them Texans, but many from other states as well -- from signing a White House petition asking for permission to renounce the U.S. Even though the number is less than 0.002 percent of the state's population of more than 25 million people, the Obama administration's "We the People" website says that any petition which receives more than 25,000 signatures will get a response.

While that response is percolating, Gov. Perry, for some reason, decided to fill the void. Reached by The Dallas Morning News, his office released the following statement on Sunday evening:

Gov. Perry believes in the greatness of our Union and nothing should be done to change it. But he also shares the frustrations many Americans have with our federal government. Now more than ever our country needs strong leadership from states like Texas, that are making tough decisions to live within their means, keep taxes low and provide opportunities to job creators so their citizens can provide for their families and prosper. We cannot allow Washington’s tax and spend, one-size-fits-all mindset to jeopardize our children’s future, undermine our personal liberties and drive our nation down a dangerous path to greater dependence of government.

That will be a big disappointment to anyone who cheered Perry in 2009 after he spoke of secession by implication, saying: "If Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot."

It will also be a letdown to even some in Perry's own party, like the treasurer of the Hardin County Republican Party, who wrote in the party's newsletter than "the maggots" will soon eat "every morsel of flesh off of the rotting corpse of the Republic, and therein lies our opportunity [to secede]."

Although Perry has fought the feds on a litany of subjects like air quality standards, budget assistance, health care and reproductive rights, America-loving Texans can at least feel reassured that he's not actually one of the 24 percent of Americans who think that states can legally secede.

Update: Second petitioner asks if El Paso may secede from Texas

In response to the popularity of a Texas man's White House petition asking to let the state leave the U.S., an El Paso man has asked the White House to let the city secede from Texas.

"El Paso has little in common with the rest of Texas," the petition explains. "Its demographics are more similar to New Mexico. El Paso is also proud to be part of the United States and wants no part of a state whom publicly contemplates secession from our great nation."

However, much like Texas cannot secede from the U.S., El Paso cannot secede from its state. On a related note, much like the state's other most populous areas, El Paso County is a Democratic Party stronghold and a key toehold in the party's strategy to turn Texas blue by 2016.

Update: Austin now petitioning to leave the union

Reacting to the secession meme, an Austin, Texas resident launched a White House petition on Tuesday asking that the city be allowed to secede from Texas and remain part of the United States.

"Austin Texas continues to suffer difficulties stemming from the lack of civil, religious, and political freedoms imposed upon the city by less liberally minded Texans," the petition explains. "It is entirely feasible for Austin to operate as its own state, within the United States, in the event that Texas is successful in the current bid to secede. It is important for Austin to remain in the union as to do so would protect it's citizens' standard of living and re-secure their rights and liberties in accordance with the original ideas and beliefs of our founding fathers."

The author concludes: "We would also like to annex Dublin Texas, Lockhart Texas, & Shiner Texas."

Austin, like El Paso, is a Democratic Party stronghold.