Hillary Clinton departs her post as Secretary of State today to an unknown future. While millions of supporters wish her well, she no doubt deserves to take a long rest, as many fervently hope for a Clinton presidential run in 2016
Today marks the end of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tenure as America’s chief diplomat and she goes out on the top enjoying sky high public approval marks of 69 to 66 percent from the American public. Having been removed from the rough and tumble of the day-to-day fights of domestic politics during the past four years, her time in the international arena has served her well. She steps off to a well deserved rest after logging nearly one million air miles (minus the bonus points for a mileage club) to visit 112 countries, as she championed women’s and girl’s human rights, but in the process she also became the idol of the American LGBT community and a heroine to LGBT activists around the world.
As Secretary of State, Hillary routinely ripped off the “L-G-B-T” acronym in human rights speeches like most people can say “A-B-C-D;” all the while most politicians, particularly those faint-hearted ones who usually avoid saying it or using it–including President Obama, who more times than not, uses the generic “gay” reference in his speeches. As she steps down, no other politician in America is as beloved within the LGBT community as Hillary Clinton. From the Democratic National Committee to Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign, progressive groups are capitalizing on her popularity, furiously sending out appeals as she leaves public life to rack up names and personal data of her supporters and raise some cash for their causes.
In the earliest days of her tenure, she told State Department bureaucrats to give foreign service officers and their same-sex partners every legal benefit that should be availed to them, not withstanding the Defense of Marriage Act. And she reformed criteria making it much easier for transgender persons to access passports. She told the staff, let’s find a way to accommodate our LGBT employees and treat them with dignity and respect.
A workhorse to the end, just yesterday she made one final appearance in the Benjamin Franklin Room at the State Department to deliver one last acknowledgement to a myriad of public-private partnerships launched during her tenure. And of course she pointedly included a tip of the hat to the Global Equality Fund for LGBT human rights launched in conjunction with the Geneva speech:
“We’re also expanding on some of our successful partnerships. In 2011, I launched the Global Equality Fund to promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons around the world. And I want to welcome the Governments of Norway, the Netherlands, and France to this partnership. And I thank the Arcus Foundation and MAC AIDS Fund for their recent contributions. Also with us is Michel Togue, a human rights lawyer from Cameroon who has fought tirelessly to defend LGBT persons with support from this fund, and we greatly applaud his commitment and his courage.”
The New Civil Rights Movement leaves our readers with her powerful words delivered in “the speech” in Geneva:
“…Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct; but, in fact, they are one and the same. Now, of course, 60 years ago, the governments that drafted and passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were not thinking about how it applied to the LGBT community. They also weren’t thinking about how it applied to indigenous people or children or people with disabilities or other marginalized groups. Yet in the past 60 years, we have come to recognize that members of these groups are entitled to the full measure of dignity and rights, because, like all people, they share a common humanity.
This recognition did not occur all at once. It evolved over time. And as it did, we understood that we were honoring rights that people always had, rather than creating new or special rights for them. Like being a woman, like being a racial, religious, tribal, or ethnic minority, being LGBT does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.
It is violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave. It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished. It is a violation of human rights when lesbian or transgendered women are subjected to so-called corrective rape, or forcibly subjected to hormone treatments, or when people are murdered after public calls for violence toward gays, or when they are forced to flee their nations and seek asylum in other lands to save their lives. And it is a violation of human rights when life-saving care is withheld from people because they are gay, or equal access to justice is denied to people because they are gay, or public spaces are out of bounds to people because they are gay. No matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we are, we are all equally entitled to our human rights and dignity.
The second issue is a question of whether homosexuality arises from a particular part of the world. Some seem to believe it is a Western phenomenon, and therefore people outside the West have grounds to reject it. Well, in reality, gay people are born into and belong to every society in the world. They are all ages, all races, all faiths; they are doctors and teachers, farmers and bankers, soldiers and athletes; and whether we know it, or whether we acknowledge it, they are our family, our friends, and our neighbors.
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. South Africa’s constitution, written in the aftermath of Apartheid, protects the equality of all citizens, including gay people. In Colombia and Argentina, the rights of gays are also legally protected. In Nepal, the supreme court has ruled that equal rights apply to LGBT citizens. The Government of Mongolia has committed to pursue new legislation that will tackle anti-gay discrimination…”
Get some rest Secretary Clinton. Put your feet up. Get regular massages. See your doctor. Take your vitamins. Write a book. And then, you know…run, run one more time in 2016. We will be waiting for you. <3 you, from LGBT America.
Tanya L. Domi is the Deputy Editor of the New Civil Rights Movement blog. She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and teaches human rights in East Central Europe and former Yugoslavia. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi was a nationally recognized LGBT civil rights activist who worked for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force during the campaign to lift the military ban in the early 1990s. Domi has also worked internationally in a dozen countries on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights and gender issues. She is chair of the board of directors for GetEQUAL. Domi is currently writing a book about the emerging LGBT human rights movement in the Western Balkans.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.