President Obama has boldly announced that the United States will incorporate the promotion of basic human rights for gay and lesbian citizens around the world into American diplomatic interactions with other countries.
The President issued a memorandum in tandem with a speech delivered by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, wherein the administration vowed to work to decriminalize homosexuality and to challenge nations where abuses against gays and lesbians are flagrant.
In countries like Saudi Arabia and Uganda, being gay is a criminal act that is punishable by flogging and potentially even death. In many other countries, egregious harassment and beating of gays and lesbians is common and perpetrators go unpunished. While the President stopped short of directly connecting diplomatic aid to fair and equal treatment of gays and lesbians in foreign countries, the initiative is an important step forward in supporting fundamental human rights for homosexual people around the world.
And then, there's Governor Rick Perry.
On his website Perry makes a bold and stupid proclamation in response to the President's new human rights initiative.
"Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America's interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers' money."
No one is asking for "special rights" here, unless you consider not being arrested, beaten, and murdered as special rights that gays somehow don't deserve. Obama is simply saying don't torture and execute someone because of their sexual orientation.
Perry also maintains on his campaign site that Obama is "out of touch" with American values. The last time I looked there was no principle held in greater esteem in this country than that of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." If Rick Perry thinks asking other nations to honor this fundamental tenet of democracy by not subjecting innocent civilians to torture and murder is somehow out of step with mainstream American values, he is not just narrow-minded but bigotedly and cruelly so.