An influential GOP donor said Friday that Republicans should do more to make sure that gay men and lesbian women do not fall victim to the sort of Shariah law practiced by hard-line Islamists.
Foster Friess, the the multimillionaire who helped keep Rick Santorum’s presidential dreams afloat in the GOP primary last year, told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor that he wants to make sure that gay people are not killed in foreign nations because of their sexual preference.
Asked whether the Republican Party should embrace gay marriage, the 72-year-old investment manager said, “We have to protect the gay people in our country from Shariah law.”
Mr. Friess, who financed the Red, White and Blue super-PAC, said that he could be more sensitive to the issue of gay rights because his brother-in-law is gay.
“I love him. I love his partner,” he said, adding that his wife also has been on the board of the National Museum of Wildlife Art and National Cowboy and Western Museum. “So there are some gay folks we interact with,” he said. “They are people just like you and I.”
Mr. Freiss pointed out that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has denied the existence of gays in his country. Mr Friess said that “it is because they kill them.”
“My zeal is to make sure my homosexual friends are protected from the fact that they can be killed if they travel to certain countries where Shariah law is in place,” he said. “I want my brother-in-law and all my gay friends to be able to travel to Iran, to travel to Iraq, to travel to Afghanistan, without fear of losing their lives.”
Mr. Santorum, a Catholic, opposes gay marriage and has been one of the most vocal critics of the Iranian government, insisted on the campaign trail that the United States and Israel should be planning air strikes against Iran to prevent it from producing a nuclear weapon.
Mr. Friess also told reporters that Republicans should be able to stand where they chose on issues involving gay rights, and said that those who oppose gay marriage on religious grounds should not be treated as a “pariahs” or a “fallback to Neanderthal times.”
“We are forcing religious beliefs on the Catholics and on the Muslims and all these religious group that believe homosexuality is inappropriate,” he said. “Whatever each of you believe, you should be able to believe what you want to believe. But I don’t think the government should force a religion onto a nation of people where we have so helped cling to our idea of religious freedom.”