Today Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is trailing badly in his campaign for the White House, sharply denounced President Obama’s decision to require that U.S. agencies abroad “promote and protect the human rights” of gay people in other countries. Gov. Perry’s stunning statements came on the same day that the Obama administration announced the new policy. The governor called the policy a “silly idea,” saying it is “not in America’s interests” and is part of President Obama’s alleged “war on traditional American values”:
“Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America’s interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers’ money.”
The governor said his position went beyond concerns related to national security interests:
“This is just the most recent example of an administration at war with people of faith in this country. Investing tax dollars promoting a lifestyle many [Americans] of faith find so deeply objectionable is wrong. President Obama has again mistaken America’s tolerance for different lifestyles with an endorsement of those lifestyles. I will not make that mistake.”
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton discussed the administration’s new policy in a major speech about human rights in Geneva, Switzerland, today. From the Washington Post:
In her most direct challenge to nations with conservative cultural or religious mores, Clinton catalogued abuses such as targeted killings of gays, “corrective rape” of lesbians or forced hormone treatments. She likened the targeting of gays for mistreatment to “honor killings” of women, widow-burning or female genital mutilation, examples of practices the U.S. decries but has not penalized friends including Afghanistan for carrying out.
“Some people still defend those practices as part of a cultural tradition,” she said. “But violence toward women isn’t cultural; it’s criminal.”
She also compared the evolution of cultural attitudes toward homosexuality to the changing view of slavery.
“What was once justified as sanctioned by God is now properly reviled as an unconscionable violation of human rights,” she said.
Last month Gov. Perry signed a controversial anti-gay marriage pledge in Iowa that, among other things, claims that being gay is a health risk. Last summer, as he prepared to announce his bid for president, Gov. Perry asked the anti-gay hate group American Family Association to organize a prayer extravaganza in Houston. Six years ago he suggested that gay military veterans returning from the war in Iraq should maybe live somewhere other than Texas. (You can read more about Gov. Perry’s venomous anti-gay record here.)
Now Gov. Perry thinks that directing American agencies overseas to defend the basic human rights of gay people — such as the right to live and be from targeted brutality — is a “silly idea” and “not worth a dime.”