Friday, December 06, 2013

Susan Rice: LGBT rights an essential part of U.S. foreign policy

It was not so long ago that our country was unwilling to sign on to demands that LGBT persecution end world wide.

It made me really proud to be serving when then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Geneva that "Gay Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Gay Rights," adding that "people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens. This is not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation. Some people still defend those practices as part of a cultural tradition. But violence toward women isn’t cultural; it’s criminal. Likewise with slavery, what was once justified as sanctioned by God is now properly reviled as an unconscionable violation of human rights.In each of these cases, we came to learn that no practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us. And this holds true for inflicting violence on LGBT people, criminalizing their status or behavior, expelling them from their families and communities, or tacitly or explicitly accepting their killing."

And that support for LGBT people worldwide has continued even after Secretary Clinton left, as is evidenced by the speech given yesterday by National Security Advisor Susan Rice.

“The United States remains firmly committed to promoting freedom, opportunity and prosperity everywhere,” Ambassador Rice said during a speech at the Newseum in downtown Washington, DC during Human Rights First’s annual Human Rights Summit on Wednesday. “We stand proudly for the rights of women, the LGBT community and minorities.”

“No one should face discrimination because of who they are or whom they love,” she said. “We’re working to lead internationally as we have domestically on LGBT issues.”

Rice noted the Obama administration supports “full equality” for LGBT Americans that includes the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” She also cited slain San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk and the late-former New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug, who introduced the first federal gay rights bill in 1975, as among the “champions who fought to bring us closer to ideals” outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that members of the U.N. General Assembly approved 65 years ago this month.

“Continuing their work at home and expanding it around the globe is our great commission as inheritors of their legacy,” Rice said.

You can read a nice piece about her speech here in the Washington Blade.

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