Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry attacked the Obama administration on Tuesday for its newly announced initiatives on international LGBT rights as he said Americans tolerate “different lifestyles” but don’t endorse them.
The three-term Texas governor in a statement said the change comes “just when you thought Barack Obama couldn’t get any more out of touch” and called on the administration to stop its “war on traditional American values.”
Perry touted his proposed foreign aid budget that “starts at zero” for all countries overseas and said he’ll consider aid requests “based solely on American’s national security interests.”
“Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America’s interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers’ money,” Perry said.
The Texas governor continued that “there is a troubling trend” toward supporting LGBT rights that goes beyond “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,” Perry said. “Investing tax dollars promoting a lifestyle many Americas of faith find so deeply objectionable is wrong.”
Perry concluded that Obama has mistaken American values by thinking the American people have endorsed LGBT people when they, in fact, only tolerate them.
“President Obama has again mistaken America’s tolerance for different lifestyles with an endorsement of those lifestyles,” Perry said. “I will not make that mistake.”
Perry issues the statement as he has fallen from his once held status as GOP frontrunner. According to a Gallup poll published Tuesday, Perry has support from only 7 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning voters. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) were each ahead of Perry in the poll.
Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, condemned Perry’s comments in a statement and said they reflect the candidate’s anti-LGBT views.
“Rick Perry has made no secret of his dislike for LGBT Americans – but his most recent remarks are outrageous even by his own standards,” Solmonese said. “It is bewildering that someone who wants to be President of the United States wouldn’t want to see our nation be a global leader in universal human rights. This is further proof that Rick Perry doesn’t want to represent the best interests of all Americans — he wants to advance an extremist, anti-gay agenda that represents the fringe views of a very small few.”
R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the National Log Cabin Republicans, also came down on Perry and said the Republican candidate is out of line with the policy of former President George W. Bush.
“With all due respect, Gov. Perry is wrong,” Cooper said. “Speaking out for the basic human rights of LGBT people to life and liberty is anything but ‘at war with American values.’”
Cooper continued, “Throughout his administration, President George W. Bush was strongly committed to supporting and protecting dissident and minority voices abroad. Our nation can be proud of its long, bi-partisan legacy of promoting freedom for all. Around the globe today, gay and lesbian people are often subject to ‘corrective’ rape, state-sponsored torture, imprisonment and execution. Combatting these injustices is not advocating for any kind of ‘special rights,’ and it is shameful for Gov. Perry to suggest that American people of faith do not support protecting vulnerable populations from brutality.”
According to CNN, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum joined in the criticism of Obama, telling reporters while campaigning in Iowa that humanitarian aide should be reserved for countries with pressing needs.
“I would suggest that we give out humanitarian aid based on humanitarian need, not based on whether people are promoting their particular agenda,” Santorum was quoted as saying. “Obviously the administration is promoting their particular agenda in this country, and now they feel its their obligation to promote those values not just in the military, not just in our society, but now around the world with taxpayer dollars.”
Santorum, an opponent of marriage equality who backs a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, reportedly added Obama needs to clarify his position on the issue. Obama has said he could evolve to support marriage equality, but he doesn’t currently back it.
“He said he’s for traditional marriage, and now he’s promoting gay lifestyles and gay rights, and he’s fighting against traditional marriage within the courts, and I think he needs to be honest,” Santorum was quoted as saying.