Rick Perry Is an Idiot, Gay-Rights Edition

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Rick Perry has no problem executing lots of people, so it wasn’t really that shocking when he announced last week that Obama’s initiative to “ensure that US diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, and transgender persons” is a “war on traditional American values.” Perry—who isn’t going to be president anyway, so who the hell asked him—says that human rights for homos aren’t “in America’s interests.” Well, Perry wasn’t the only one who was pissed. Some African leaders, too, have now responded that the US is overstepping its boundaries by trying to push a gay agenda on their sovereign nations. Perhaps the sassiest of the complaints came from a senior advisor to Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, who said of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech that it’s unacceptable to kill gay people, “I don’t like her tone, at all.”

He wouldn’t, considering that Ugandan parliament was recently batting around a bill to do just that, the subject of my feature from our January issue that you can read now online. In writing it, I spent a lot of time with activists who go to gay bars or gay nights out, whatever the risks:

When I return to our table, Dennis hollers at me. “Where were you?” He’s got a bag full of lube packets in front of him, waiting for the friend who needed it to arrive. “I thought you were kidnapped for corrective rape.”

My face turns horrified.

“Just kidding!” he says, grabbing my arm. Ha ha!

“Do you know a lot of women that has happened to?” I ask.

“Nooooo, not a lot. Like five.”

These are the kinds of traditional values Museveni’s adviser thinks are worth protecting. But you can’t really ask the Western hemisphere for billions of dollars of assistance while simultaneously telling it to mind its own business. If we’re not going to leverage our massive amounts of foreign aid to impose our moral agenda in a way that saves lives and fights oppression, what’s the point? For an illustrated argument of how imperative Obama’s new policy is, check out this excellent map showing the staggering portion of Africa in which killing or imprisoning gays is legal. And for a narrative account of how much gay Ugandans are willing to risk for the right to cuddle publicly and go to karaoke like everybody else, read our story

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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