Rick Perry unleashed a furious response to a White House memo urging the State Department to promote LGBT rights in foreign countries on Tuesday.
“This administration’s war on traditional American values must stop,” he said in a statement.
The memo in question did not concern gay rights issues that are typically debated in mainstream American politics — ie. marriage and military service — but instead directed State Department officials to help pursue greater equality in countries where homosexuals’ very lives are threatened.
“I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world,” President Obama said in the memo. “Whether it is passing laws that criminalize LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT pride celebrations, or killing men, women, and children for their perceived sexual orientation.”
Perry nonetheless accused Obama of denigrating religious Americans’ faith by considering gay rights at all in a foreign policy context.
“Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America’s interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers’ money,” he said. “But there is a troubling trend here beyond the national security nonsense inherent in this silly idea. 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 Americas of faith find so deeply objectionable is wrong.”
He concluded: “President Obama has again mistaken America’s tolerance for different lifestyles with an endorsement of those lifestyles. I will not make that mistake.”
Perry has a history of opposition to gay rights, most notably his longtime opposition to the 2002 Supreme Court decision Lawrence v. Texas that overturned a state law criminalizing homosexual activity.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.