“ISIS throws gay man from roof.”
“ISIS fighters stone gay man to death.”
"ISIS executes gay man."
These are the types of headlines Americans have become accustomed to reading — those which highlight the war on the LGBT community in ISIS-held territory in the Middle East.
Now they're occurring at home. Last weekend’s Orlando attack — the largest mass shooting in American history — was more than a bias-related assault against the LGBT community (which would have been horrendous enough); it was an act of radical Islamic terror — the worst such attack since September 11, 2001.
If it wasn't before, national security is now undeniably an issue that is (or should be) important to the LGBT community. These strange bedfellows have the potential to bring together traditionally competing interests within the major parties to make for a stronger and safer country. But first, the proper threat must be identified and called by name.
On the Republican side, national security conservatives, some of whose records are have been less than exemplary on LGBT equality domestically, now have the unique opportunity to articulate their foreign policy views through an LGBT lens.
I would argue that after the attacks in Orlando, it is more than an opportunity; it is an obligation.
National security hawk Sen. Marco Rubio, for example, highlighted that the “gay community was targeted” in the Orlando attack. He continued, “It’s pretty clear that in addition to wanting to kill innocent Americans, there was an additional inspiration behind this.”
On the Democratic side, liberals long fond of calling attention to their record of support for the LGBT community face a daunting choice between competing interest groups.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign email in the wake of the attack read that we must “affirm the rights of LGBT Americans…to feel welcome and safe,” but also warns against “inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric” that “demonize Muslim people.” But is pointing out that two-thirds of Muslims in many parts of the world believe that gay people should be executed demonization? Or simply identifying the problem?
It is imperative that leaders from both parties put aside political correctness and call out the aspects of Muslim culture which embrace laws that propagate the systemic and institutionalized mistreatment of LGBT people. They should highlight that these views are unacceptable in a liberal country based on individual rights and freedoms. Meekly tiptoeing around this reality in an attempt not to offend any religious group will not make the LGBT community any safer.
As we forcefully denounce the dark corners of Christianity that call for violence against our community, so too must we denounce the radicalized strain of anti-gay animus in the Muslim faith.
While specific national security policy responses can be debated, the threat itself cannot: radical Islamic terrorists who target LGBT individuals for death simply because of who we are and who we love.
Certainly, any call for absolute prohibition on Muslim immigration is not only likely unconstitutional, but definitely an affront to American values. It is also an ineffective response to the problem at hand — roughly two-thirds of extremist attacks since 9/11 have come not from immigrants or naturalized citizens, but from U.S.-born individuals who have been radicalized through online propaganda.
Log Cabin Republicans, the organization for which I have the honor of serving as president, was the first LGBT advocacy organization to declare our opposition to any outright ban on people immigrating to the United States solely because of their faith. If we are going to call on people to recognize the Orlando attack and others for what it was — radical Islamic terrorism — then we need to remember that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are neither "radical" nor "terrorists".
But how can we reconcile the very real threat which the laws prevailing under religious extremism pose to our communities, with thoughtful action?
Leaders could point out that to this day, Sharia law prescribes that homosexuality is punishable by death in 12 countries and criminalized in 64. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that at least 25 men suspected of being gay were executed by ISIS militants in January of this year: six stoned, three shot, and 16 thrown from multi-story buildings.
Next, they should point out that radical Islamists are now taking this war on LGBT individuals to the West. Orlando is just the latest example. ISIS partially justified its attacks last November on the Paris nightclub the Bataclan because Paris is “the capital of prostitution and vice.” Those attacks killed 149 individuals.
Or that the recent former president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) based here in the U.S., has said that, “Homosexuality is a moral disorder. It is a moral disease, a sin and corruption…No person is born homosexual, just like no one is born a thief, a liar or murderer. People acquire these evil habits due to a lack of proper guidance and education.” Currently ISNA’s website says it “stands with the victims of this senseless act of violence.”