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International Human Rights Day: The Legacy Of Eleanor Roosevelt



Eleanor Roosevelt’s biographer says if she were alive today she would celebrate the  advancement of the LGBT, economic and social human rights movements globally

Today marks International Human Rights Day around the world. It is the day that we recognize the important role and place of human rights in people’s lives who inhabit the globe from the Arab Spring uprising to the transformative elevation of women’s and girl’s human rights. Indeed, there is a planetary recognition that all people yearn to be free, despite the best efforts of despotic regimes to oppress, suppress and shackle those who are different.

This year’s International Human Rights Day celebrates the right to free speech with the tagline of “My Voice Counts” and touted in a promotional video by luminaries like Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu, an outspoken advocate for LGBT human rights, who has spoken forcefully in recent days about Uganda’s “kill the gays bill”.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), considered the foundational document from which all human rights law emanates, was drafted under the tutelage of Eleanor Roosevelt, a leader in the establishment of the United Nations after the conclusion of World War II.  Arguably, Roosevelt’s greatest legacy was the adoption of the UDHR and the development and adoption of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1977, has not been ratified) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1977 and ratified  by Congress under President George H.W. Bush in 1992).  Indeed, in 1945 she was appointed U.S. delegate to the UN by then-President Harry S. Truman where she took charge of establishing what many believed at the time, an organization that would end all wars and peacefully negotiate all disputes.

Roosevelt was no push over, according to  Blanche Wiesen Cook, Distinguished Professor at John Jay, City University New York who shared her thoughts about Roosevelt with The New Civil Rights Movement this afternoon.  Wiesen, who resides on the Upper West Side with her partner Clare Coss, is Eleanor Roosevelt’s most recent biographer and most eloquent trenchant story teller about the life of Eleanor Roosevelt, will publish a third volume of a completed trilogy next year.  It was during the short period between the end of World War II and when the Communist “Red Curtain” came down over Soviet controlled Europe that Eleanor Roosevelt pushed for the inclusion of not only civil and political rights, but also included economic and social rights. Truman told her he would not support economic and social rights because they were socialist. In a push back, according to Cook, Roosevelt told Truman she would resign, insisting you can not convince hungry people of the merit of human rights. Truman relented and asked her not to resign.

What would Eleanor Roosevelt think about the state of human rights today?

 “She would really celebrate the work of The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (U.S. based human rights organizations)–she would support the rights of all people across the globe.

How would she feel about the drone utilization of targeted killings by the U.S. government?

“Eleanor would be appalled by the drone policy and targeted killings.  Certainly, these policies contradict the UDHR.  We have upended the Magna Carta with these policies.”

How did she resolve the political issues around civil and political rights versus social and economic human rights?

“In the end she divided these rights into two different covenants, thinking she could get them through the Senate much more easily for ratification.  But it took until President George H.W. Bush to ratify the civil and political rights.”


Eleanor Roosevelt was a pioneer on a number of fronts and made a pact to remain with FDR, although he had betrayed her by engaging in a life long romantic relationship with Lucy Mercer Rutherford, and maintained a close relationship with his long serving secretary Missy Leland.  She turned to others for emotional support and intimacy, including a several-years relationship with Lorena Hickok, the first AP reporter assigned to follow the First Lady who happened to be Eleanor Roosevelt.  According to Cook, the two women loved each other and wrote daily letter that contained intensely political and loving references throughout the duration of their relationship.

Not withstanding her private and perhaps complicated life, Roosevelt was appointed U.S. Delegate to the UN where she was a force to be reckoned with and not even Harry Truman was willing to risk damaging his reputation by forcing her resignation.  Indeed, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is arguably one of Eleanor Roosevelts’s greatest achievements, and no doubt she would be amazed how that document has evolved to encompass the human rights of LGBT persons, peoples with disabilities and more recently, the embrace of indigenous peoples by the world community.


In fact, Eleanor Roosevelt’s distinguished accomplishments to establish the UDHR and the Human Rights Commission has galvanized a global movement to erect a memorial in her honor which is memorialized in the above video.  We are once again reminded why we remain  in her debt 64 years after this singular, triumphant  accomplishment that extends hope to the entire world with these words: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.

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.

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GOP’s New ‘Bizarre Obsession’ Shows It Has ‘Gone Crazy’: Morning Joe



MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough ripped the Republican Party for focusing on a “bizarre obsession” to stoke a culture war that targets vulnerable teenagers.

A proposed draft of a Florida physical education form would require all high school athletes to provide information on their menstrual cycle to state athletic officials, which the “Morning Joe” host bashed as an unnecessary and cruel attack on a minuscule number of transgender teens who play sports.

“The percentage is so small that they’re doing this to every girl in Florida schools?” Scarborough said. “Talk about overkill. Just stop already.”

“I mean, let’s talk about that Florida law,” Scarborough continued. “Can you imagine doing that as a young girl when you were, like, in high school, middle school? Come on, talk about, again, the obsession over 0.003 percent of the population, and then the unbelievably small number of transgender students who are playing sports. The Florida Republican Party has gone crazy. They sent out tons of mailers on this, the obsession, and now they’re making young girls self-report on menstrual cycles because of this bizarre obsession?”

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“This is stupid,” he added. “This is another stupid extension of a culture war where he’s trying to create a culture war around something where there is not a war.”

Watch the segment below or at this link.


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‘When Was Your Most Recent Period?’: Student Athletes in Florida May Be Required to Share Menstrual History



For the past two decades teenaged women participating in Florida high school athletics have been asked to submit their menstrual history, including the date of their first period, the date of their last period, and how many periods they have had in the last 12 months. The board of directors of the Florida High School Athletic Association, the organization in charge of coordinating high school athletics in the Sunshine State, will debate later this month if they will make divulging that information mandatory for participating in sports. According to the FHSAA website that board is comprised of 14 men and two women. Not one is a physician or medical professional.

Critics are voicing concerns over a variety of issues, including the right to privacy, the need for the highly personal medical information, who has access to it, how it is stored, and how it could be used against the students, including to determine possible pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion, or if the athlete is transgender.

“Many parents and doctors are worried that schools will use the menstrual data to monitor students for late or missed periods, a possible sign of pregnancy, or to out transgender students by watching for girls who don’t get periods or boys who do,” The New Republic reports, calling it “a terrifying glimpse of our dystopian post-Roe world.”

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The three-page form, called the Preparticipation Physical Evaluation, asks:

“When was your first menstrual period?” “When was your most recent menstrual period? “How much time do you usually have from the start of one period to the start of another?” “How many periods have you had in the last year? and “What was the longest time between periods in the last year?”

A draft form slightly alters the questions, asking instead, “Have you had a menstrual period?” and “How old were you when you had your first menstrual period?” in addition to the other three questions.

While it currently states answering is optional, at the end of this month those questions could become mandatory, although the reason for the possible change has not been disclosed.

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Because the information is not being given by the athletes to a physician or other medical professional or organization, the information is not subject to HIPAA regulations. And in some school districts the inform action is stored on a third-party platform, possibly exposing it to other entities.

“This is clearly an effort to further stigmatize and demonize transgender people in sports [and] meant to further exclude people who aren’t assigned female at birth in girls sports,” the  president of PRISM, a South Florida nonprofit organization that provides sexual health information to LGBTQ+ youth, Maxx Fenning, told The Tampa Bay Times. “Beyond that, I think there’s concern among LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ [students] alike. This is an extremely invasive mode of gleaning into someone’s reproductive history, which is especially dangerous in this post-Roe world we live in.”

TIME adds that critics “have noted that this policy would be a major challenge for transgender athletes who may have to out themselves with their responses to the questions. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis approved a bill last year—which is currently under legal fire—that bans transgender female students from playing on women and girls’ sports teams.”

READ MORE: Trump Vows to Use DOJ and Congress to Make Being Transgender Illegal While Promoting the ‘Nuclear Family’

According to the fan-checking site Snopes, “these written forms with students’ medical information are submitted to school officials, contrary to a number of other states where only a doctor’s signature is required to clear an athlete for play.”

Snopes adds that “concerns grew as many states worked to criminalize abortions after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and transgender athletes faced scrutiny. In Florida, abortions are banned after 15 weeks, with only a few exceptions.”

“Any forms (physical or digital) could be subpoenaed. Meanwhile, in Palm Beach County, nearly all athlete-registration forms moved online, which meant reproductive data for athletes was being stored by a third-party software company called Aktivate. Other counties were also planning to digitize their forms.”

Last October NBC News reported that an Aktivate spokesperson said a student’s information could be removed but only with parental and school district consent.

Image via Shutterstock

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George Santos Says Man Interviewed for Staff Position ‘Violated’ His Trust After Secretly Recording Conversation



U.S. Rep. George Santos is angered a man interviewed for a staff position in his Capitol Hill office secretly recorded the conversations, claiming it “violated the trust that we had in him.”

The freshman New York Republican lawmaker who is believed to be under multiple DOJ and local investigations, suggests the candidate handed the recordings over to Talking Points Memo, and says he expects an article will be published there Thursday evening, after the news site contacted his office.

“According to Santos, his office had been in the process of hiring Derek Myers for a position, but paused when they saw he faces wiretapping charges in Ohio after publishing recorded court testimony — obtained from a source, he said — as part of a story for a small newspaper,” Semafor reports. “FIRE, a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to First Amendment issues, has defended Myers, arguing local authorities in the state were criminalizing legitimate journalism.”

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“While they said they expect the audio will just show them questioning him about his specific circumstances, it’s unknown if he recorded other exchanges.”

Regardless, Santos is taking action.

The GOP congressman accursed of deceiving his constituents with countlessly false claims that helped get him elected, says he is going to report Myers to the Biden administration, claiming he has a White House press pass.

Santos says he wants Myers’ White House press pass to be revoked, after Myers, the congressman says, claimed to have one.

“He should have that revoked if it’s true, if it’s even remotely true he has it,” Santos told Semafor.

It’s not known if Myers does, and if so it’s unlikely it’s a permanent hard pass. It’s also unlikely it would be revoked if Myers did not break the law.

Semafor adds in Washington, D.C. it is legal to record your own conversation with another party without obtaining their consent.

READ MORE: ‘Firehose of Disinformation’ Sarah Huckabee Sanders Picked to Deliver State of the Union Response in Nod to Trump (Video)


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