Monday, January 2, 2012

2011: A Turning Point for Human Rights of LGBTQ Community

Both NPR and the new blog at the GLBTQ site offer good end-of-year summary articles about the strides made in the area of gay rights in the U.S. in 2011.  The NPR program, hosted by Rebecca Scheer, finds the year "extraordinary" due to the forward movement gay rights advocates made on a number of fronts in 2011.  

At the new blog of GLBTQ (the website of the Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture), Claude Summers offers a run-down of the top 10 lgbtq news stories of the past year.  At the top of the list, he maintains, is the turnaround the Obama administration made on gay issues after its "shellacking" in the 2010 elections.  

As Summers notes, after having promised much on the gay rights front while he was campaigning, the new president initially delivered very little, as he listened to beltway advisers and blue dog Democrats who warned him that advocating for gay rights would put him in a politically precarious position.  His administration, in fact, alienated its many gay supporters by actually opposing gay rights in several highly publicized initiatives of the Justice Department from 2008-2010.  

Then came the 2010 "shellacking," with the conspicuous defeat of many of the very blue dogs the new administration had sought to appease, and the administration began to revamp its presentation in the area of gay rights.  And that turnaround is nowhere more in evidence than in the stunning speech that Secretary of State Hilary Clinton gave last month to the U.N. Council on Human Rights, which coincided with a memorandum issued by Mr. Obama instructing federal agencies abroad to defend glbtq rights abroad.  Summers identifies this as the seventh biggest gay rights story of the past year.

Gay rights are human rights, Ms. Clinton said succinctly and without qualification.  And: "Being LGBT does not make you less human."

Though the mainstream media have managed largely to ignore the Geneva address (primarily because the American media and political center don't do the language of human rights for a variety of reasons), Ms. Clinton's unambiguous assertion before the U.N. that gay rights are human rights will go down in history, I suspect, as a turning point in the movement for the human rights of lgbtq persons worldwide.  Even though the road towards realizing the vision of actual human rights for gay human beings will remain extremely rocky for some time to come, due to the bitter and stalwart resistance of some religious bodies, including the Roman Catholic church, to the notion that the concept of human rights applies to those who are gay.

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