Fueling the Terrorist Fires with the First Amendment Religious Freedom, the Anti-LGBT Right, and Interest Convergence Theory
Velte, Kyle C.
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In the context of the racial civil rights movement, white, powerful men in the Johnson, Truman, and Eisenhower administrations, concluded that the end of legal segregation in schools and the passage of the Civil Rights Act were essential to the United States' ability to continue as a global power. This article argues that a similar interest convergence occurs in the context of the Antidiscrimination Question, the challenges to the new anti-LGBT laws, and the need for express statutory prohibitions against sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI) discrimination. The largely white, heterosexual stakeholders in the United States' national security and foreign policy circles should realize that if the Antidiscrimination Question and challenges to the new anti-LGBT laws are resolved in favor of antidiscrimination principles (and thus in favor of LGBT civil rights), the United States' foreign policy and national security interests will benefit. Conversely, answering the Antidiscrimination Question in favor of religious exemptions for corporations would create a clear and present threat to U.S. foreign policy and national security interests because the United States will be allowing on its soil what it actively condemns abroad-namely, the attempt by one religious group to replace the rule of law with the word of that group's god. Similarly, as long as there is no federal law expressly protecting against discrimination based on SOGI, and gaps in state law protections, American foreign policy will suffer, and the United States' national security will be threatened. Part I of this article defines the concepts of foreign policy and national security and explains Bell's notion of "interest convergence," which provides the theoretical framework for the article. Part II analogizes the present-day fight for LGBT civil rights with the racial civil rights movement of the 1960s. It uses Bell's interest convergence theory to frame and explain the oft-ignored connection between the United States' foreign policy interests and the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education and the subsequent passage of the Civil Rights Act. Part III surveys the Religious Right's shifting narrative over the past six decades, the state of LGBT civil rights in the United States, and the current landscape of state "religious freedom" laws. It highlights the current tension between religious freedom laws and antidiscrimination laws-because both types of law serve democratic principles, at least superficially, there exists a legal and normative debate about which should win out. It also reinforces the connection between the Religious Right's shifting narrative and its current-day quest for quasi-theocratic zones of exemption, disguised in the seemingly neutral concept of "religious freedom." That narrative has changed-from one of directly attacking LGBT people as people to one that characterizes members of the Religious Right as victims of an increasingly secular society whose laws prohibiting discrimination based on SOGI further victimizes these members and impermissibly infringes on their religious liberty. This part also summarizes the current foreign policy and national security concerns of the United States with regard to terrorism. Part IV draws parallels between the goal of the Religious Right and the goals of the EITN. The goal of the Religious Right-to establish an anti-Establishment regime in which its religious beliefs are favored above other religious beliefs and the rule of law-is not unlike the EITN's goal of a radical Islamic caliphate in the Middle East and Northern Africa. It builds on these parallels to make the interest convergence argument vis-A-vis the American LGBT civil rights movement and the foreign policy and national security communities. It contends that those in the U.S. foreign policy and national security communities should promote an LGBT civil rights agenda today based on the same foreign policy and national security reasons that garnered support for-and gave force to-the outcome in Brown v. Board of Education and subsequent passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It also utilizes Bell's interest convergence theory to frame and support the article's prescriptive recommendations.