Brooklyn Law Review


Kyle C. Velte


This article argues that there is a connection between formal equality for LGBT Americans and the United States’ foreign policy and national security interests. It makes that connection utilizing Professor Derek Bell’s interest convergence paradigm. It argues that the new agenda of the American Religious Right is one that seeks to assert quasi-theocratic and anti-Establishment positions in litigation as well as in its promulgation of anti-LGBT laws. This agenda is cloaked in the garb of “religious freedom,” but the Religious Right’s definition of “religious freedom” is one that runs counter to our long-standing understanding of that principle as one that rests on religious pluralism. The interests of the national security and foreign policy communities converge with those of the LGBT community because of the commonalities between the Religious Right and the extremist Islamic terror groups that United States has been fighting against since the 9/11 attacks. Both groups share similar theocratic and quasi-theocratic sensibilities; both share a common religiously based disdain or hatred for LGBT people that fuels their efforts to deny LGBT people civil rights. These similarities mean that the United States must take similar positions vis-à-vis both groups; failure to do so will render the United States hypocritical on the world stage. To maintain its own moral and diplomatic authority when spreading messages of equality, democracy, and freedom, the United States must live those values within its own borders by rejecting the Religious Right’s new efforts to carve out quasi-theocratic zones of exemptions from antidiscrimination laws and to enact explicitly anti-Establishment, anti-LGBT laws. Failing to condemn the anti-Establishment agenda of the Religious Right also threatens national security. Inconsistency between what the United States says regarding freedom and democracy abroad, and what it actually does at home, provides fodder for terrorist groups to rally their followers and harm the United States and its citizens. Interest convergence between the U.S. foreign policy and national security communities (securing U.S. foreign policy and national security interests) and the LGBT civil rights movement (formal equality) provides an opportunity for a unique coalition to coalesce for LGBT civil rights protections.