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People of faith should celebrate Hillary Clinton's statement

 |  NCR Today

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:

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"Today, I want to talk about the work we have left to do to protect one group of people whose human rights are still denied in too many parts of the world today. In many ways, they are an invisible minority. They are arrested, beaten, terrorized, even executed. Many are treated with contempt and violence by their fellow citizens while authorities empowered to protect them look the other way or, too often, even join in the abuse. They are denied opportunities to work and learn, driven from their homes and countries, and forced to suppress or deny who they are to protect themselves from harm.

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.


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November 20-December 3, 2015


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