Texas Gov. Rick Perry said today that using foreign aid to combat human rights abuses against homosexuals in foreign countries is "not in America's interests" and attacked President Obama's decision to require U.S. agencies operating abroad to promote equal rights for gays as part of the administration's "war on traditional American values."
"Just when you thought Barack Obama couldn't get any more out of touch with America's values, AP reports his administration wants to make foreign aid decisions based on gay rights. This administration's war on traditional American values must stop," Perry said in the statement. "Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America's interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers' money."
Perry moved beyond the national security implications of the decision and honed in on what he deemed to be an attack on "traditional American values."
"But there is a troubling trend here beyond the national security nonsense inherent in this silly idea," he said. "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."
In a memorandum released today, Obama said foreign aid should be used by U.S. agencies operating abroad to "promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons," including combating the criminalization of LGBT status or conduct by foreign governments, along with protecting LGBT asylum seekers and refugees.
"I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world, 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," Obama said in the memo.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today equated gay rights with women's rights during a speech in Geneva.
The Human Rights Campaign condemned the Texas governor's statement.
"Rick Perry has made no secret of his dislike for LGBT Americans - but his most recent remarks are outrageous even by his own standards," said HRC President Joe Solmonese in a statement. "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."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.