Dignity For All: Reactions from LGBT and Human Rights Organizations

Repost from The Office of Public Engagement

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton articulated the first-ever U.S. Government strategy to direct all federal agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons.

These actions represent a continuation of the Obama Administration’s commitment to safety, justice, and equality for LGBT people everywhere. President Obama expressed this commitment earlier this year at the United Nations General Assembly, when he said “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.” And since January 2009, Secretary Clinton has strongly and consistently championed a comprehensive human rights agenda — one that specifically includes the protection of LGBT people.In response to these developments, a number of organizations that advocate for LGBT rights and human rights issued statements praising the strong leadership of the President and Secretary of State.  Here are just a few of those statements:

Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign

“The Obama Administration has made a tremendous difference in the lives of LGBT people in the United States and this new strategy helps to extend that presidential leadership across the globe.  There is no question that the administration’s record of advancing equality for LGBT people has been enhanced by the leadership of Secretary Clinton who consistently underscores the simple truth that LGBT rights are human rights.”

Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

“The United States showed extraordinary global leadership today by affirming the dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around the world. It is what we would hope for — and expect from — our country.  The presidential memorandum is the first-ever U.S. government strategy dedicated to combating the abuse of LGBT people abroad. History is being made, but more importantly, lives will be improved and even saved.  We applaud the president for this monumental step forward, and thank Secretary Clinton for taking to the world stage to send the unequivocal message that LGBT people everywhere should be able to live freely and with dignity.”

Kate Kendall, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights

“Between the initiatives outlined in the President’s memo, and the visionary speech of Secretary Clinton, it seems possible that my children could grow up in a world where LGBT people are no longer terrorized or victimized based on their sexual orientation or gender identity… This is a day to remember, and one that will mark the beginning of a new era in the international recognition of our community.”

Jessica Stern, Acting Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

“Under the leadership of President Obama and Secretary Clinton, we now see a strategic approach to LGBT human rights and the most affirming LGBT rights foreign policy in the nation’s history.  The ‘Presidential Memorandum’ and speech by Secretary Clinton make clear that LGBT rights are not a mere afterthought but a carefully considered component of US foreign policy.”

Robert G. Sugarman, National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, National Director, Anti-Defamation League

“We salute President Obama and Secretary Clinton for making LGBT rights and the fight for fair treatment and dignity for all groups a core part of American foreign policy. Today’s action is a model for how governments can use their bully pulpit to signal that fair treatment of LGBT people is a vital concern and part of a moral duty to honor the common humanity of all people.  As a community that experienced first-hand the indifference of a world that viewed the rights of Jews as less worthy, we know that it can make a difference when governments apply the force of their leadership and their diplomatic tools to protect individuals seen as different or marginal by society.”

Paul LeGendre, Director of the Fighting Discrimination Program at Human Rights First

“The Obama Administration should be credited for its consistent advocacy of the simple proposition that human rights apply to all people, including LGBT people. Secretary Clinton’s work to impact the international community and its inclusion of LGBT rights will be one of her enduring legacies.  She is right: it is time for all nations to implement policies to protect this vulnerable community from violence and discrimination. President Obama’s directive specifically advances that goal.”

Jennifer Chrisler, Director of the Family Equality Council

“We applaud President Obama, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the administration for demonstrating leadership on the issue of human rights for LGBT people around the world and we look forward to the day when all LGBT people can be assured of full legal, social and economic equality.”

Mara Kiesling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality

“Secretary Clinton spoke about LGBT rights at the UN in Geneva and expressed a strong U.S. position in support of respect and fair treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide, making a case that ensuring our human rights is a basic responsibility of the United States and the world. Concurrently, President Obama released a Presidential Memorandum directing all federal agencies abroad to promote and protect the human rights of LGBT people in U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance work.  The National Center for Transgender Equality applauds their continued leadership in this area.”

Dr. Yvette C. Burton, Chief Executive Officer of the Arcus Foundation

“The historic steps announced by Secretary Clinton are great news for millions of people worldwide who face real threats ranging from employment discrimination to prosecution and even death under criminal laws that target them based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.  These actions will strengthen the credibility of U.S. foreign policy and ongoing U.S. efforts to promote human rights throughout the world.”

Justin Nelson, President of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce

“Sec. Clinton’s profound statement to the world sets the stage for global dialogue and a movement in the right direction.”

Victoria Neilson, Legal Director of Immigration Equality

“Today the administration committed its muscle to helping provide a safe haven for LGBT people who face violence, persecution and abuse in their home countries.”

Susan Farnsworth, Executive Director of Global Rights

“In no uncertain terms, Secretary Clinton reiterates the U.S. Administration’s stance that LGBT rights are human rights.  Clinton’s speech makes it clear that fair and equal treatment of LGBT individuals is a U.S. foreign policy priority.  Global Rights supports the U.S. Administration’s unambiguous call that laws must change in countries to end criminalization of same-sex relationships.”

J. Kevin Jones, Deputy Director of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
“Combined with the Presidential Memorandum released earlier in the morning directing all federal agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons, it felt clear to me at least that the United States is now forcefully asserting itself as a global leader in seeking equal rights for the LGBT community.  Even while acknowledging, as Secretary Clinton did, that this country still has work to do here, the U.S. visibly “came out” to the world as an active and proud ally.”

Amnesty International

Amnesty International USA welcomes the Obama Administration’s continued and enhanced commitment to protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and urges swift action to match the Administration’s articulated vision

Council on Global Equality

Secretary Clinton made a powerful case today at the UN in Geneva for why the respect and fair treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide is of concern to the United States and the world. President Obama also released a Presidential Memorandum today committing the entire U.S. government to support this important human rights agenda. The Council for Global Equality applauds their leadership.

For more information:

Gautam Raghavan is the Associate Director for White House Office of Public Engagement.

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