President Obama issues memorandum on protecting LGBTs abroad

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Four days in advance of  Human Rights Day on Saturday, Dec. 10,  President Barack Obama today issued a presidential memorandum “to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons,” according to a statement just released by the White House press office.

The statement sent out by the White House includes these comments by the president:

“The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States commitment to promoting human rights.  I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world — whether it is passing laws that criminalize LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT pride celebrations, or killing men, women, and children for their perceived sexual orientation.  That is why I declared before heads of state gathered at the United Nations, “no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.”  Under my Administration, agencies engaged abroad have already begun taking action to promote the fundamental human rights of LGBT persons everywhere.  Our deep commitment to advancing the human rights of all people is strengthened when we as the United States bring our tools to bear to vigorously advance this goal.”

The memorandum from Obama directs agencies to combat the criminalization of LGBT status or conduct abroad; protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers; leverage foreign assistance to protect human rights and advance nondiscrimination; ensure swift and meaningful U.S. responses to human rights abuses of LGBT persons abroad; engage international organizations in the fight against LGBT discrimination, and report on progress.

I give the president credit for issuing the memorandum at the same time he’s gearing up for what will likely be a tough re-election campaign during which opponents will no doubt use his stance and actions on LGBT issues against him. But I still have to point out that we as LGBT people still face discrimination and inequality right here in the good old U.S.-of-A:

• Our marriages are legally recognized at the federal level and they aren’t recognized in the VAST majority of state and local jurisdictions. We want the Defense of Marriage Act repealed and local and state ordinances and constitutional amendments prohibiting recognition of our relationships need to be overturned.

• There is still no federal protection against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and/gender expression and gender identity. Congress needs to pass — the president needs to sign — the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

• Even though there is now a federal hate crimes law that includes LGBT people, as well as similar laws at many state and local levels, those laws are not well enforced.

Anti-LGBT bullying remains a deadly problem in our schools and our workplaces and on the Internet. We’ve made progress in combating such bullying, but not nearly enough. Dedicate the resources necessary to address the issue effectively.

So let’s applaud our president for the steps he has — and is — taking. There’s no doubt Obama has been more open than any other president about addressing LGBT issues and we have seen great strides forward toward equality during his administration. But there’s a long way to go yet, and we need to make sure that the president — and all our elected officials — know they can’t just rest on their laurels.

—  admin

No judge left behind: Even deeply GOP Bush appointees earn ‘activist’ ire

Screen Shot 2010-08-25 At 11.49.24 AmFACT: James Randal Hall served as a Republican state senator in Georgia’s 22nd district.

FACT: James Randal Hall was appointed to a federal judgeship by George W. Bush.

FACT: Senators as conservative as Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson spoke in support of Hall’s U.S. District Judge appointment.

FACT: Judge Randal Hall recently defended Augusta State University’s decision to requite a graduate student to follow certain guidelines on homosexuality if she hopes to remain in the school’s counseling program. And in his ruling, Hall was careful to say his decision was not about “pitting Christianity against homosexuality,” but instead was about the constitution and its application to the school’s requirements.

FACT: Social conservatives like Janie Shaw Crouse don’t typically care about the facts at hand, preferring to instead undermine the role of the independent judiciary by claiming that any judge who rules in a way they dislike is nothing more than a liberal, gay-sympathizing activist:

Dr. Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America sees judicial activism in action.

“The really horrendous part is that one single judge is able to make a decision that influences so many different aspects of our culture. And we’re seeing it over and over again where that judge is imposing his own personal views — which is such a contradiction and is so ironic when this young woman’s rights are being taken away from her.”

Judge says ‘remediation’ lawful, student appeals [ONN]

You know, because when is Saxby Chambliss not taking to the Senate floor to speak in support of a judge who’s motivated by his own personal gay agenda? [::liberal eye roll, activist head shake::]

FACT: Judge Vaughn Walker was first nominated by Reagan, then ultimately Confirmed under H.W. Bush (amid liberal dissent). The justice who authored the Iowa Supreme Court’s Varnum opinion, Mark S. Cady, was appointed by conservative Republican governor (and current gubernatorial candidate) Terry Branstad, as was the chief justice of the court, Marsha Ternus. Judge Ronald George, who wrote the California Supreme Court’s 2008 that gave that state marriage equality, describes himself as a lifelong Republican. And so on and so on.



FACT: If these social conservatives are going to keep insisting on GOP elected officials, then they are going to have to start taking responsibility for whatever legal opinions these same elected Republicans hath wrought!




Good As You

—  John Wright