Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Finally: A major US foreign aid initiative could tip the scales further toward equality.

Hilary Clinton gave an amazing speech this week, and the U.S. took an amazing stand for Civil Rights and Human Rights this week. Secretary of State Clinton was amazing (she should've been President). She said that the U.S. would not be giving a lot of aid to countries that didn't recognize gay rights as human rights- and will potentially steer billions of dollars in US aid toward countries and programs that protect rights while expanding efforts to protect gay and lesbian refugees. 

The US took a groundbreaking step on global LGBT rights Tuesday, joining the UK in tying foreign aid to governments’ protection of sexual minorities, raising the stakes in the increasingly globalized battle over gay rights.

The Obama Administration’s sweeping initiative —which will potentially steer billions of dollars in US aid toward countries and programs that protect rights while expanding efforts to protect LGBT refugees — was announced ahead of Human Rights Day. The timing reinforced a now-common refrain that has been spoken, chanted and shouted by rights activists around the world for decades: Gay rights equal human rights.

President Obama issued an official memorandum “directing all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that US diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons,” while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the American position clear to diplomats from around the world gathered at the United Nations in Geneva: "Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights."

America overwhelmingly remains the world’s largest provider of official development assistance, and the UK is the fourth-largest. Although the US State Department has worked diligently behind the scenes to promote LGBT rights and cultural awareness via its embassies around the world, the agency has never before made such an overt move. Together the two powers have created a united front in a battle that has rapidly escalated in the past 10 years.

ENCOURAGING: From the Netherlands’ legalization of same-sex marriage in 2001 to India’s decriminalization of homosexuality in 2009, many of the world’s laws have changed even if longstanding cultural practices and religious beliefs have not.

For some LGBT rights supporters, the irony of Obama and Clinton’s message is that the US is not typically considered one of the most progressive countries for legal protections of LGBT rights. Since 1996, the federal Defense of Marriage Act has defined marriage as a heterosexual union, and just six states grant same-sex marriage licenses.

And of course, anti-gay bullying remains a corrosive and sometimes fatal cancer on society, while many communities have saved no place at the table for the gay, the trangendered or the intersex. Political leaders like Rick Santorum have continued to frame gay relationships as threatening to American society.

At the same time, public support for gay rights is on the rise and polls at over 50 percent. The US military ended its Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy in September, and even anti-gay activists have conceded that America is moving toward a society that protects its LGBT population.

In October, UK Prime Minister David Cameron told a meeting of Commonwealth leaders that future British aid would be contingent on gay rights protections, drawing livid responses from several African leaders seen as targets of Cameron’s remarks. 

"This is an issue where we are pushing for movement,” Cameron said, just weeks after throwing his support behind a new LGBT equality group called The Kaleidoscope Trust. “We are prepared to put some money behind what we believe.”

Leaders of countries including Uganda, Nigeria and Zimbabwe — where homosexuality is widely considered “un-African” and remains illegal — called Cameron out on his proclamation.
Ugandan presidential adviser John Nagenda said that Ugandans, who have gained a global reputation for creating an anti-gay climate since 2009, were “tired of these lectures” and were not to be treated like “children.”

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Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

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We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next