Patricia Nell Warren

Is the U.S. Changing Its Anti-Gay Stance at the UN?

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | February 24, 2009 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics
Tags: Durban Review Conference, international LGBT rights, religious charity, U.S. policy on LGBT rights, UN

Amid the marriage uproars, many gay media almost lost an important piece of news in the shuffle. We LGBT people had a longstanding grievance against the Bush administration for opposing and undercutting establishment of our rights in the global arena. Now the Obama administration has made a start on reversing that policy. As part of the countdown to the UN's upcoming Durban Review Conference, the U.S. voted with other countries to support language that would outlaw all discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The Durban Review Conference will held in Geneva, Switzerland on April 20-24. According to the UN website, "It will evaluate progress towards the goals set by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in Durban, South Africa in 2001."

Previously, the U.S. took the opposite positioning, and hung us LGBT people out to dry at the UN. More on this after the jump.

in December 2008, the UN voted on a similar resolution to decriminalize homosexuality worldwide. Sixty nations said aye. But the U.S. held hands tightly with the Vatican and fundamentalist Islamic countries and said nay with them. How telling that our government would align itself with these oppressive regimes, when we are a country that supposedly supports human rights!

Let's hope that Obama really means it, and will pursue this change of policy to the most positive and furthest point that he can.

However, I do have further personal concerns on the subject of Obama and government support of religious policy. Here at home, there are growing signs that Obama is getting too cozy with the church people. After all, being President doesn't require Obama to do political butt-kissing with the churches just because he and his family do personal church-going. "Political" and "personal" relate to separating church and state.

For the best example of a President who mastered the art of separating political from personal, we can look to Theodore Roosevelt. TR had no qualms about stripping the motto "In God We Trust" off our coinage even as he faithfully attended the Dutch Reformed Church every Sunday and made himself notorious for singing hymns louder than anybody else. And he lived to tell the tale (though Congress overrode him and put the motto back on our coins).

Obama's decision to continue Bush's support for U.S. faith-based organizations would make me feel better if his list of orgs included atheist and agnostic nonprofits, as well as orgs for Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, Santeria, the Native American Church, and all the other hundreds of U.S. organizations that represent myriad ways of looking at life across the U.S. If we're going to support institutions with spiritual positionings that have 501c3s and do worthy social work, let's support ALL of them across the board, not just a select few.

Even better -- let's re-activate separation of church and state, and not support church organizations at all. The churches should be giving the governmernt money (i.e. paying income taxes), not the other way around. Some of those big churches have got more money than the guv-mint anyway.

In fact, I'll bet the Council on National Policy has a big enough bank account that it could bail out Wall Street all by itself.
Here is a link to the UN dispatch.

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I am totally in support of your proposal in your last paragraph, Patricia.

It's an easy thing to do and won't cost Obama much. It’s good window dressing to cover his bigoted opposition to same sex marriage and his non-stop pandering to cultists.

And a welcome change. Bush opposed the UN's human rights and refugee-asylum initiatives, which in my opinion saved lives, because he was consumed with hatred for us. I know Laura Bush used to keep denying that he was a bigot but he supported bigoted policies. He walked like a bigot and he talked like a bigot.

I think we should advocate taxing cults and closing their schools if they teach children that GLBT folks are sinful. Closing cult schools would also avoid a lot of surgery for anal and vaginal tearing in children.

I applaud your article! thanks for the info. I was unaware that George Bush voted against this measure in the UN. I agree that religious organizations should start to be taxed at least by a small percentage. The danger in allowing these organizations to operate without any oversight has been proven so loudly by the passage of Proposition 8. Thank you again! I'm sure taxing the Catholic Church and Mormon church alone will take a big chunk out of our deficit.


I knew he would help us when he could. But he's blocked by political realities and the many important issues he has to address.
We can forget about going after religion's tax exempt status. There are too many of them. They're too powerful. We don't have lawyers smart enough to make the right arguments. And attacking religion at large would be very bad pr for us. On the other hand, boycotting the 8 sponsors still seems like a good strategy.

I've written about this issue before, and have never advocated that gays alone be the ones to battle for churches to pay taxes.

Separation of church and state is an issue that affects ALL Americans. For such a tax-reform movement to succeed, the groundswell of complaint would have to come from many voters before it could succeed. And it is not "attacking" churches to demand this. It is only requiring them to carry their fair share of the load.

In fact, American government is facing such a bankruptcy threat on all fronts that it may well be forced to consider taxing churches and church orgs in order to find a new source of cash flow.

Another great article Patricia and one very worthy of the news bulletin of the swearing of changes of the Obama/U.N. that our own community almost let slide by.

YES, WE CAN take on the religous right and their tax exempt is called 'separation of church and state'. Wilberforce has it all wrong. We do have the smarts, we just lack the community empowerment to take it on as a group in force.

We used to require people like Anita Bryants' vial and public against us for us to unite. We have had Harvey Milk to guide us for our, the milk toast organizers will help us loose our greatest chance to overturn Prop 8 with their lack of balls to 'fight for our rights'...YES, WE CAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cleve Jones was on MSNBC on the Rachel Maddow show the night after the Oscars and I loved what he said, 'we should demand our equal rights'...and to me it is clear we take on the establishment on 'separation of church and state' boundaries or make them pay taxes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Still, perhaps we should gleen in what Obama supports in protecting gays from execution that Bush signed at the U.N. Seems like such a long way to go for us...we can't even unite as a group.

This is the correct link to UN Dispatch, there's a typo in the original link :)

Don't forget the Mormons sent a special ambassador to the UN, Wilkins I believe, who has worked for a decade to further to goals of the LDS Church against GLBT folk. They can rally a lot of emails and letters in hours, working through organizations 'not associated' with the LDS Church but run by members faithful to LDS doctrine. They work long and hard and without flagging when the going gets rough, like it is about to.


If Churches and Religious groups are going to make themselves as active a political lobby as they have been, by all means they should be paying taxes.

But TR didn't have to contend with decades of pink scare, red scare, an entire false history linking 1950's morality to economic prosperity, 3 24-hour news networks with a pundit-class that thinks it can speak for the common person, and a fully developed, completely normalized, absolutely ruthless Religious Right.

But he probably would have stood up to all that nonetheless. Which is probably why he wouldn't have a career in politics nowadays.

For as uch as the Reactionary Domionist Religios Right uses an imaginary "Gay Agenda" against us, we never seem to sue their published agenda against them.

They do have a published agenda, in the writings of the Chalcedon movement; nearly every right wing religious organisation and leader has ties to Chalcedon.

Given that items on their anegda include things like the re-establishment fo slavery and public stoning of aduterers(including divorced and remairried people) just how much support for them would weaken if our spokespeople began to give the Right wing's ultimate intentions the kind of exposure that they give to obscure gay authored texts?