On Dec. 7, International Human Rights Day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to the United Nations in Geneva. That day, she made a statement defending universal human rights that should be celebrated by Catholics and all people of faith. Yet it has not gotten the media coverage nor the praise it deserves from the leaders of faith traditions, like, say, Catholic bishops.
In short, Secretary Clinton said the human rights and equality of all human persons include gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. And she injected that sentiment directly into the foreign policy of the United States, saying that the U.S. will defend that principle with both foreign aid decisions and diplomacy. It was a breathtaking statement in many ways, but one that should be applauded by everyone concerned about universal human rights. I may be wrong, but I have yet to hear any Catholic bishop praise that statement. [The bishops oppose gay marriage, but they claim to defend the equal rights of LGBT people otherwise].
Here is the essence of what Clinton had to say:
I am talking about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, human beings born free and given bestowed equality and dignity, who have a right to claim that, which is now one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time. I speak about this subject knowing that my own country's record on human rights for gay people is far from perfect. Until 2003, it was still a crime in parts of our country. Many LGBT Americans have endured violence and harassment in their own lives, and for some, including many young people, bullying and exclusion are daily experiences. So we, like all nations, have more work to do to protect human rights at home."
With the polls on this issue in the United States changing rapidly, we are in a new and positive moment for LGBT people. It's time for people of all faiths to join in the sentiments expressed by Hillary Clinton and push for truly universal human rights.