WASHINGTON, May 18, 2012 — When people think about “the gay agenda” these days, the first issue that comes to mind is marriage. Some will also mention bullying, or workplace discrimination, or the unfair additional taxes paid by domestic partners, but as seen from the recent media firestorm over the president’s announcement, marriage is at the top of the list.
While America debates the freedom of same-sex couples to marry, around the globe lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are fighting for their lives – and this week, there are reports from Iran of four young men executed for the crime of “homosexual sodomy.”
The photographs of these gay men hanging in a town square are a sobering reminder of the freedoms we sometimes take for granted. Iran is one of five nations where homosexuality is punishable by death; the others are Mauritania, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.
Gay or straight, liberal or conservative, such deaths fly in the face of our shared values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As Vice President Dick Cheney said, “freedom means freedom for everyone” - no matter where, or what “way,” you were born.
As part of the George W. Bush administration, it was a tremendous honor to play a small part in supporting President Bush’s freedom agenda. In many of the same places where homosexuality is still considered a crime, the freedom agenda sought to replace tyranny with respect for voting rights, civil liberties for women and minorities, and the freedom of religion where that often meant the freedom to worship at all.
President Bush was not content “to make a bargain to tolerate oppression for the sake of stability,” believing that promoting freedom was part of America’s unique role in the world and vital to our interests as a nation. In essence, the freedom agenda was American exceptionalism put into practice. During his two terms as president, Bush met personally with 180 key dissidents from 35 countries, men and women whom the Bush Institute refers to as “the non-violent shock troops of democracy.”
Through my current work with the Log Cabin Republicans, I see every day that the principles at the heart of the “freedom agenda” and the so-called “gay agenda” are one and the same. The non-negotiable demands of human dignity promoted by the Bush administration abroad — the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, private property, free speech, equal justice, and religious tolerance – provide the same moral foundation for protecting the liberty of LGBT people here at home.
When President Bush rolled out the Freedom Collection this week, he stated, “The tactics of promoting freedom will vary, case by case. But America’s message should ring clear and strong: We stand for freedom and for the institutions and habits that make freedom work for everyone.”
That is why when Log Cabin Republicans met with Senators and Members of Congress to discuss repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” statute, I talked about the freedom to serve. Today, when I advocate for the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, I talk about a transgender woman’s freedom to work. And yes, when I make the case for same-sex couples having the ability to legally take responsibility for each other, I talk about the freedom to marry. Gay agenda?
No. I’m still fighting for the freedom agenda, and nothing could be more conservative – or more American.
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