President Obama announced a broad effort to use U.S. foreign aid as a tool to promote rights for gays and lesbians abroad as human rights (which I personally think should be obvious even to detractors). This initiative includes combating attempts by foreign governments to criminalize homosexuality. He issued a memorandum directing American agencies to look for ways to combat such attempts. In the memorandum, the President said that the State Department would lead other federal agencies to help ensure that the government provided a “swift and meaningful response to serious incidents that threaten the human rights” of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people abroad. I am thrilled that he has taken this stand and hope that he intends to direct these actions to apply to the United States (all 50 of them) as well. But don't just leave it up to the administration. Let's all write to him (www.whitehouse.gov/contact) and to Secretary Clinton (www.state.gov/secretary) to congratulate them on this stand and let them know that you want them to follow through swiftly so that their actions meet their welcomed words.
In Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke the following words to an audience of diplomats: "Gay rights are human rights.… It should never be a crime to be gay." She added that a country's cultural or religious traditions are no excuse for discrimination, which I can attest is an important statement. I can’t even estimate how many times I have heard such excuses used in countries around the world, including within fundamentalist cultures throughout America. Secretary Clinton also noted that, "Being gay is not a Western invention. It is a human reality.…Gay people are born into, and belong to every society in the world." You can let her know your thoughts at www.state.gov/secretary.