The United States government appears to be getting more serious about gay rights. On Tuesday, President Obama’s administration “bluntly warned the world against gay and lesbian discrimination.” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made it clear to those in attendance, which included diplomats from Arab, African and other nations where homosexuality is considered a crime, that the United States “will use foreign assistance as well as diplomacy to back its insistence that gay rights are fully equal to other basic human rights. “
Mrs. Clinton likened the struggle for gay equality to that of women’s and racial equality. She specifically negated religious and cultural traditions do not excuse the type of discrimination homosexuals face, especially in countries “where brutality and discrimination against gay people is tolerated or encouraged.” Ms. Clinton went on to say that "gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights," and "It should never be a crime to be gay." Apparently, many in the audience were not exactly pleased with Mrs. Clinton’s speech and left the room immediately after her speech was completed.
While President Obama’s administration is taking a stronger stance on this issue, no specific consequences were spelled out for countries violating these rights. And while President Obama is attempting to curb discrimination overseas, he has yet to back gay marriage. Many gay supporters find his failure to support gay marriage and the delay in repealing “Don’t ask, don’t tell” as disheartening; as such, some see this latest advocacy as an outreach to homosexuals, “a core Democratic constituency at home”, in order to garner their support in the 2012 Presidential election.
The protection of all human rights is of primary importance; as Mrs. Clinton states, it does not matter if one is gay or not, as human rights apply to all persons. It is admirable that the Obama administration is attempting to protect these rights in areas where homosexuals are considered criminals and are subject to government approved violence.
However, there is still much to address in the United States regarding gay rights. Homosexuals are much more than an important constituency that must be placated to earn their votes. Also, as Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney suggest, gay rights should not necessarily be the deciding factor for whether to provide aid to or interact with foreign countries; although specific consequences have not been enumerated, the reduction in aid and/or trade seem like likely candidates. It is hoped that this policy is much more than just a play for more support from homosexuals as the election draws nearer, but without further support for gay rights in the U.S. by the President and a lack of more specifics on this new policy, it is hard to see it as much else.
The entire AP article can be viewed here.