Hero of the Week: December 9, Hillary Clinton

9 Dec

Hero of the Week

Thanks to regular TSM commenter Jay for this week’s winning HWA nomination. What a pleasure to recognize Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her stirring speech to the United Nations as part of the week leading up to Human Rights Day. Secretary Clinton built on a White House memorandum that directs

all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons.

From that wonderful platform, she spent 30 minutes clearly articulating the fact that “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.”  The full video is available here and a transcript is here. The following excerpt captures the spirit of her comments.

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…

Now raising this issue I know is sensitive for many people and that the obstacles rest on deeply held personal, political, cultural and religious beliefs. [But] being gay is not a western invention. It is a human reality. And protecting the Human Rights of all people gay or straight is not something that only western governments do.

Thank you, Madame Secretary, and special thanks for recognizing how far our own country has to go. May your stirring words provide the sound foundation for full civil rights in foreign and domestic policy.

10 Responses to “Hero of the Week: December 9, Hillary Clinton”

  1. James Kaliway December 9, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    Don’t you love the way the Obama administration has been expressing its rhetoric lately?

    Rachel Maddow did a segment about this last night, highlighting one of the positive effects its already had in the world. (It’s in the second half of the video, the first part of the segment she talks about the protests in Russia).

  2. Marla Moore December 9, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    It’s so good this administration is speaking out to an international audience, and they better not forget we’ve got our own house to clean!!

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 9, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

      Yes, let us hope this is the impetus for us to get “our own house clean” and extend civil rights to ALL.

  3. Jay December 9, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    I agree that a particular strength of this speech is the clear acknowledgement of America’s flaws, past and present, in regard to full legal equality for LGBT citizens. Not only does she acknowledge that prior to 2003 homosexuality was criminal in some states, but she discussed the very recent end to “don’t ask don’t tell”.

    This sort of thing–‘apologizing’ to foreign audiences for various American shortcomings and failures–tends to drive Republicans into a tizzy (or more of a tizzy to be more precise). This is quite wrong-headed in my view. The ability to admit and acknowledge errors is a sign of strength, and should be a source of pride–only the weak, the vain and the delusional struggle with the concept of self-criticism.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 9, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

      Wow! “The ability to admit and acknowledge errors is a sign of strength, and should be a source of pride–only the weak, the vain and the delusional struggle with the concept of self-criticism.” I can’t say anything better than what you have said here. Bravo!

  4. Jeaux Moer December 28, 2011 at 8:54 am #

    Thank you for posting this Michael. I have duplicated it to Facebook with special emphasis on the list entitled “Church Family” with a few exclusions for obvious reasons. In South Africa, while we have the most permissive Constitution ever created, there is such bigotry and hypocrisy in the Baptist Churches that their own constitution had its first amendment since 1924 in 2007 when it added that the church will not recognise gay marriage. Entrenched in their constitution is this abject homophobia. I was an organist for them and when they found out my online activities, they forced me into either “Redemptive Process” or leave. I chose the latter as I was not prepared to be told that I am a sinner on my way to hell because I love guys more than I love my wife. Middle finger salute to those bigots and hypocrites. Jesus loved people. His attitude was “Go and sin no more” I would have questioned Him on His point “sin no more” by saying “why do you consider this love to be sin”?

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 28, 2011 at 8:59 am #

      Dear heart,
      It breaks my heart to hear how you have been treated by so called “religious” people. I hope you are able to find a congregation that celebrates gay people rather than condemning them. Please know you are not alone and that there are many who love you just for who you are. If you should want to write about your experience, I would be honored if you published it here on this blog. The world needs to hear your story.

      Warmest regards,

      • Jeaux Moer December 29, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

        Perhaps … let me think about it.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 30, 2011 at 7:23 am #

        Please do. I think your voice could benefit so many that are religious and experience discrimination and abuse of power.

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