GLOBE Act Introduced in the Senate

See the Senate press release here.

U.S. leadership on human rights was in evidence again today, on International Human Rights Day, when Senator Markey (D-Mass.), joined by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced the GLOBE (Greater Leadership Overseas for the Benefit of Equality) Act. The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Bob Casey (D-Penn.).  The bill sets out a comprehensive vision for global leadership in support of human rights for LGBTI individuals everywhere.

Upon introduction, Senator Markey stressed that “We must recommit the United States to the defense of human rights globally.  We must reorient our human rights foreign policy to be in line with U.S. values.”  Senator Shaheen added, “The GLOBE Act sends a strong message to the international community — LGBTI rights are human rights, and the United States will continue to defend those rights.” That is a sentiment shared earlier this year in the House introduction of a companion bill that already enjoys almost 70 co-sponsors.

Over the past decade, the State Department’s annual country human rights reports have documented — with unsettling consistency — abuses, discrimination and exclusion directed against LGBTI people for no reason but their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.  The GLOBE Act would tackle these indignities by directing that an array of U.S. diplomatic and development tools be deployed toward them.  It equally would ensure that the U.S. Government stand with its LGBTI employees when they are assigned abroad in support of American interests.

The timing of Senator Markey’s bill could not be of greater import.  To its disgrace, the Trump Administration has cold-shouldered human rights by embracing unethical dictators, mal-treating would-be immigrants, and bringing U.S. refugee acceptances to a post-war low.  It has withdrawn our country from the UN Human Rights Council, knee-capping any effort to right the imbalances of that body.  To deny the legitimacy of transgender people, it has sought to scuttle any use of the term “gender” in UN documents.  And the State Department’s new “Unalienable Rights Commission” threatens to upend any proper understanding of the fundaments of human rights:  that all people are created equal and are entitled to equal protections under any government’s laws.

Republican support at the bill’s introduction is lacking.  We expected more of a party that once stood for the very freedoms and opportunities the bill would enhance, and we call on Republican senators to recommit to human rights leadership as well.  In the interim, we salute Senator Markey and those who have co-sponsored the GLOBE Act, and we look forward to the conversation that the bill should entail.

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