Jeb Bush To Deliver Commencement Address At Virulently Anti-Gay University


Jeb Bush, moving further right, has just agreed to address the Class of 2015 at one of the most anti-gay religious educational institutions in America.

Liberty University was founded by Jerry Falwell, a televangelist who has been dubbed "the founder of the anti-gay industry." It was Falwell who delivered possibly the most hateful remarks about the September 11 terror attacks ever. "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"

Falwell also claimed that "AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals, it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals."

Ted Cruz last month announced his run for the White House at Liberty University, and other famous anti-gay Republican politicians like Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Bobby Jindal have all spoken there.

So perhaps it's no surprise that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will be delivering the commencement keynote address at Liberty University next month.

Bush has been framed, however wrongly, as more of a moderate than most of the announced or likely to announce Republican field. Speaking at Liberty may help him win over some of the anti-gay religious right.

"Liberty University is honored to welcome Governor Jeb Bush to campus for our 42nd Commencement exercises," Liberty President Jerry Falwell, son of the school's founder, said in a statement today. "Throughout his years of public service, Governor Bush has been a champion for excellence in education and so many other issues of vital importance to our university community."

The University is strongly linked to Liberty Counsel, an anti-gay hate group and legal firm that has tried (and lost) several same-sex marriage and LGBT civil rights cases. Liberty University's former Dean is Mat Staver, who is the head of Liberty Counsel. Right Wing Watch notes Staver "has repeatedly called for a 'revolution' to protest gay equality and warned that gay rights laws will increase violent crimekill people, lead to 'forced homosexuality,' and eventually destroy America and western civilization."

Gov. Bush, who has yet to formally announce his candidacy, will deliver his remarks on the morning of May 9.


Image by PBS NewsHour via Flickr and a CC license

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