Santorum: Gay Rights Only Matter When I Say They Do

December 07, 2011 11:45 am ET — Carlos Maza

Keith Ablow

On Tuesday, President Obama issued a memorandum instructing “all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons.” The memorandum is aimed at combating human rights abuses against LGBT people in foreign countries, including the criminalization of homosexuality in countries like Uganda, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Although the memorandum didn’t mention same-sex marriage (or even same-sex relationships), GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum was quick to use it as an opportunity to attack the president’s alleged pro-gay agenda:

"I would suggest that we give out humanitarian aid based on humanitarian need, not based on whether people are promoting their particular agenda," Santorum said. "Obviously the administration is promoting their particular agenda in this country, and now they feel its their obligation to promote those values not just in the military, not just in our society, but now around the world with taxpayer dollars."

Santorum, who has long been an outspoken opponent of gay marriage, said Obama needed to clarify his stance on marriage rights. Obama has said he is "evolving" on the issue, but does not currently support the rights of gays to marry.

"He said he's for traditional marriage, and now he's promoting gay lifestyles and gay rights, and he's fighting against traditional marriage within the courts, and I think he needs to be honest," Santorum said.

Despite Santorum’s anti-gay reputation, his comment actually contradicts a surprising statement he made in August during the Ames, Iowa GOP presidential debate. While discussing his foreign policy position on Iran, Santorum raised eyebrows by criticizing the country for “trampl[ing] the rights of gays”: 

SANTORUM: I don’t apologize for the Iranian people being free for a long time and now they’re under a “mullahcracy” that tramples the rights of women, tramples the rights of gay, tramples the rights of people all throughout society.


In other words, Santorum is opposed to countries like Iran committing human rights abuses against gays and lesbians. He just doesn’t think the U.S. should promote the “gay lifestyle” by doing anything about it.