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.