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December 07, 2011 10:30 AM Clinton makes it plain: ‘Gay rights are human rights’

By Steve Benen

The Obama administration announced yesterday that, from now on, foreign aid decisions will take into consideration how countries treat their LGBT citizens, and the president directed U.S. agencies abroad to ensure our humanitarian and diplomatic efforts “promote and protect” the rights of gays and lesbians.

Soon after, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke in Geneva in recognition of International Human Rights Day, and delivered a rather remarkable speech on the need for equality.

For those who can’t watch clips online, the State Department published the transcript. From the speech:

“Like being a woman, like being a racial, religious, tribal, or ethnic minority, being LGBT does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.

“It is violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave. It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished…. No matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we are, we are all equally entitled to our human rights and dignity. […]

“To the leaders of those countries where people are jailed, beaten, or executed for being gay, I ask you to consider this: Leadership, by definition, means being out in front of your people when it is called for. […]

“And finally, to LGBT men and women worldwide, let me say this: Wherever you live and whatever the circumstances of your life, whether you are connected to a network of support or feel isolated and vulnerable, please know that you are not alone. People around the globe are working hard to support you and to bring an end to the injustices and dangers you face. That is certainly true for my country. And you have an ally in the United States of America and you have millions of friends among the American people.”

Those wondering about the differences between Democratic and Republican administrations might want to keep Clinton’s remarks in mind. I suspect the Secretary of State in a Romney or Gingrich administration wouldn’t take such a bold position on the global stage. Call it a hunch.

Indeed, it’s worth noting that some Republican presidential candidates were outraged by the Obama administration’s move yesterday. Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) condemned the new policy, calling it “silly,” part of a “war on traditional American values,” and an “example of an administration at war with people of faith.”

Rick Santorum was thinking along the same lines.

Right-wing worldviews notwithstanding, it’s also worth noting that Clinton received a sustained and enthusiastic standing ovation from her audience in Switzerland yesterday. At least for another year, American leadership on the global stage is advancing forward, not backward.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

Comments

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  • Josef K on December 07, 2011 10:37 AM:

    “example of an administration at war with people of faith.”

    This coming from a luminary of the party that all but declared war on Islam.

  • FriscoSF on December 07, 2011 10:48 AM:


    Expecially during an election year

  • Grumpy on December 07, 2011 10:48 AM:

    I'm outraged that Obama has the gall to extend human rights to gay non-humans! Apes, robots, etc.

  • Danp on December 07, 2011 10:54 AM:

    No matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we are, we are all equally entitled to our human rights and dignity. […]

    Limbaugh and others will interpret this as Hillary admitting she's a lesbian. What'da you want to bet?

  • Al on December 07, 2011 10:57 AM:

    It's one thing to adopt pro-gay measures in the USA, e.g. the repeal of DADT, that forces the military to spend millions to install private shower stalls.

    It's quite another to force third-world countries to spend scarce funds to upgrade washroom privacy in the name of gay rights.

  • martin on December 07, 2011 10:59 AM:

    it’s also worth noting that Clinton received a sustained and enthusiastic standing ovation from her audience in Switzerland yesterday

    Oh c'mon. That was from a bunch of unexceptional foreigners in the sissy country of Switzerland. It's like the French with different cheese.

    Real 'muricans know that gays are fer beating up.

  • June on December 07, 2011 11:01 AM:

    To my mind, this initiative is an example of our nation at it's best, the vaunted "American beacon" that is oft-referred to. Proud of this administration for taking this step; proud of Secretary Clinton for so powerfully and eloquently expressing our commitment to it.

  • Astrogeek on December 07, 2011 11:02 AM:

    a 'war on traditional American values,' and an 'example of an administration at war with people of faith.'

    Heh, yeah like "Love your neighbor as yourself" and "do unto other". Those are so "silly". Gotta love Republican Christians.

  • Eeyore on December 07, 2011 11:04 AM:

    “And finally, to LGBT men and women worldwide, let me say this: Wherever you live and whatever the circumstances of your life, whether you are connected to a network of support or feel isolated and vulnerable, please know that you are not alone. People around the globe are working hard to support you and to bring an end to the injustices and dangers you face. That is certainly true for my country. And you have an ally in the United States of America and you have millions of friends among the American people.”

    This is a good example of American Exceptionalism.

  • square1 on December 07, 2011 11:10 AM:

    Thank you, President DOMA-DADT, for your stirring words in defense of the human rights of gays!

  • just bill on December 07, 2011 11:14 AM:

    i see the two trolls showed up right on schedule.

  • zeitgeist on December 07, 2011 11:21 AM:

    of course, right on cue Perry becomes the first candidate to go up with paid TV in Iowa with a gay bashing ad. In it he says that you know something is wrong in America "when gays can serve openly in our military, but children can't openly celebrate Christmas in school."

    bonus points for honoring Pearl Harbor Day by running an ad attacking Americans who choose to serve in uniform.

  • aggie bee on December 07, 2011 11:22 AM:

    I have had my issues with Hillary in the past, but like RFK in the last three years of his life, Hillary has grown deeper, more soulful, more resolute in her work against injustice.

    Thank you, Hillary, and thank you President Obama for knowing she was The One & not settling for "No."

  • June on December 07, 2011 11:24 AM:

    Well said, @aggie bee!

  • exlibra on December 07, 2011 11:25 AM:

    Expecially during an election year -- FriscoSF, @10:48 AM

    So, tell me, Frisco... Would you rather they did it in an election year, for, possibly, "impure" reasons, or not at all?

    Me, I don't give a tinker's damn why; I'm just happy they did. For me, it's the results that count; I'm a pragmatic. You, OTOH, would have, probably, bitched no matter what. What's more, you're wrong: DADT rollback was not done in an election year. The decision not to defend DOMA was not taken during an election year, either. For someone who, personally, has had reservations about the gay rights and how far they should go (see campaign '08 and his evasion on the issue of marriage), Obama has done very well indeed by the LGBT community. What's more, he's not likely to be as childish as you are and say "OK, if you're gonna hate me anyway, I'm gonna take it all back; give you something to really bitch about"

  • Josef K on December 07, 2011 11:27 AM:

    From Al at 10:57 AM:

    It's one thing to adopt pro-gay measures in the USA, e.g. the repeal of DADT, that forces the military to spend millions to install private shower stalls.

    It's quite another to force third-world countries to spend scarce funds to upgrade washroom privacy in the name of gay rights.

    Are you trying to be funny, satircal, ironic, or serious here, Al? Its literally impossible to tell.

    If its any of the first three, you should be writing for the Cobert Report.

    If its number four, I really feel sorry for you.

  • square1 on December 07, 2011 11:28 AM:

    Actually, I retract my comment which was stupid.

  • laceface on December 07, 2011 11:38 AM:

    I was pleased to see this update to the bottom of the think progress article regarding Rick Perry's nasty comments about Obama's announcement:

    "The Log Cabin Republicans take a swing at Perry: “With all due respect, Governor Perry is wrong. Speaking out for the basic human rights of LGBT people to life and liberty is anything but ‘at war with American values,’” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director."

  • aggie bee on December 07, 2011 11:50 AM:

    The Log Cabin Republicans need to put out one more statement in order for me to take them seriously:

    "We, the Log Cabin Republicans, are about as relevant to our nation's political discourse & affect as much change in the Republican Party as a gaggle of protesting vegans at Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest."

  • Ron Byers on December 07, 2011 11:56 AM:

    I have to agree. Hillary has been an outstanding Secretary of State. She has been a wonderful partner for Obama. He can send her any where in the world without any concern that she won't do or say exactly the right thing to advance American interests.

    I wonder if she will be too old in 4 years to run for President?

  • Texas Aggie on December 07, 2011 12:01 PM:

    Gov. Goodhair has made a career out of being wrong. He's been wrong on so many issues that a betting man would automatically bet against whatever Goodhair proposes because in the past, that was the way to bet. He's been wrong on privatization (electric utility bills increased more than 3X, the Medicaid registration fiasco, the toll roads), on economics ($27 billion deficit), on education (Texas State Board of Education, cuts to school budgets), on environment (TX is now the most polluted state in the nation, Simmons' radioactive dump over the Ogallala aquifer, fast tracking coal burning power stations), on social welfare (highest % with no access to medical care, highest % of minimum wage or below jobs, cuts to Medicaid and Medicare), on employment (see comment on minimum wage jobs and on cuts to education, unemployment in TX now worse than 26th in the nation), and so on.

    The only thing he's good at is shelling out taxpayer money for his friends.

  • golack on December 07, 2011 12:20 PM:

    I'm so glad to hear the treating people with love and respect is a blow to traditional values and an attack on religion...

  • aggie bee on December 07, 2011 12:30 PM:

    @golack lol!!

  • johnny canuck on December 07, 2011 1:00 PM:

    @Josef K on December 07, 2011 11:27 AM:

    Al used to post parody items regularly here; has been missing for much of the last year.


    I think it is safe to say he is always satirical/ironic and usually very funny

  • Anonymous on December 07, 2011 1:00 PM:

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) condemned the new policy, calling it “silly,” part of a “war on traditional American values,” and an “example of an administration at war with people of faith.”


    The truth is, this band of 'people of faith' have declared war on our government, not the other way around. They've been fighting a war against our government for the past 30 years. They see it as a war, as in 'all's fair in love and war'. They HATE that our govenment is secular, at its core and BY DESIGN. They haven't realized (nor can they conceive of the fact) that EVEN THOUGH they are at war with our government, our government is ABSOLUTELY NOT AT WAR WITH THEM, and fundamentally, at its core and by design, IT MAY NOT GO TO WAR AGAINST THEM.

    Because they've cast the struggle in terms of an existential war, they've allied themselves with elements of our society (in the 1%) who also see themselves as 'at war with our government'. These forces (Big Oil, Other Big-pollution corporations, some of the super-rich) HATE that our government regulates the rich. They HATE that we all may vote. They HATE that we can place restrictions on businesses which limit their profit by preventing polution and dangerous products and child labor and descrimination. These forces lie constantly - creating deceitful catch-phrases like 'death tax' and 'clean coal' and 'welfare queens', and while some of the 'people of faith' don't agree with all of this, they are still 'married' to them and 'stand by their man', because not only do they have faith in God, they have 'faith' in the GOP, and in Perry, and Gingrich, and Palin, and Bush, and Cheney, and Rumsfeldt, and Addington, and sadly, (with the debatable exception of God), they've been brutally betrayed by all of them.

  • chi res on December 07, 2011 1:21 PM:

    square1 on December 07, 2011 11:28 AM: Actually, I retract my comment which was stupid.

    Thank you.

  • Marko on December 07, 2011 2:11 PM:

    Are you trying to be funny, satircal, ironic, or serious here, Al? Its literally impossible to tell.

    Yes, Al is our resident "Colbert" troll.

  • Dawn Reel on December 09, 2011 1:16 PM:

    This is outrageous that Hilary Clinton is trying to wrap herself in the rainbow flag as a defender of human rights of LGBT people while being a key instigator of the re-colonization of Africa, e.g. invasion of Libya and assassination of Col. Gaddafi.

    When it was hard to support gay rights in the U.S. she sponsored and defended "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and legislation making marriage illegal for gay folks.

    Clinton doesn't give a shit about gay people and is just trying to use us in her war-mongering, imperialist agenda. Demand self-determination for ALL oppressed minorities: gay, African, Middle Eastern. Demand Hilary get the hell out of other people countries, just like other people's bedrooms.

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