Cautionary notes on LGBT foreign initiative

Republican presidential long-shot Rick Perry was one of the first to criticize the Obama administration’s newly announced initiative to push for the human rights of LGBT people around the world.

Perry said such an initiative was “not in America’s interest” and that it was, in fact, “the most recent example” of Obama’s “war with people of faith in this country.”

Another GOP long-shot, former Senator Rick Santorum, said the Obama initiative is part of the president’s gay agenda– “not just in the military, not just in our society, but now around the world with taxpayer dollars.”

But at least three gay activists involved with international efforts issued cautionary notes.

Scott Long, former LGBT leader at Human Rights Watch, said the U.S. embracing gay equality could be “the kiss of death” for the gay movement in some countries.

Jessica Stern of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said she thinks U.S. financial assistance for gay groups could be helpful but she said the U.S. should not condition its financial aid to various governments on the country’s gay rights records. To do so, she said, could turn gays into scapegoats when countries lose U.S. foreign aid.

But most LGBT leaders seemed profoundly moved and impressed by the administration’s new initiative. And former NLGTF leader Urvashi Vaid called it a “breakthrough moment.”

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