Is There An Obama International Gay Rights Doctrine?
The team of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have done more for international LGBT rights in two years than any U.S. administration before them — ever. Is what we’re seeing the beginning of an Obama international gay rights doctrine?
The U.S. State Department sent out a press release this morning highlighting its policy achievements during the recent 16th UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, touting among its accomplishments U.S. leadership in obtainingÂ “a ground-breaking effort to get 85 UN member-states to join a statement supporting the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.”
The Obama administration deserves to share at least partial credit for the recent shelving of Uganda’s proposed “Kill The Gays” bill.
Read: “UN Condemns Violence Against LGBT Persons Ahead Of Ugandan Anti-Gay Bill” and “Analysis: What Killed Ugandaâ€™s Kill The Gays Bill And Is It Really Dead?“
What a difference an election makes on the issue of gay rights and human rights, that has produced a new and evolved U.S. foreign policy that includes LGBT rights at its core from Barack Obama’s White House to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Department of State.
While the Obama Administration continues to point out the shortcomings of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council — and its decided anti-Israel tilt — included in the press release today it chose to re-engage and rejoin the Council with the intent to influence outcomes to advance human rights arguments and applications.
It announced also today that it would seek another term on the Human Rights Council next year.
But the biggest change in U.S. foreign policy in the human rights domain has been its championship of LGBT rights in all major multilateral fora. The State Department has formalized human rights reporting on LGBT rights for inclusion in the annual human rights country reports.
Clinton, echoed at times by the president, has said repeatedly,Â “gay rights are human rights.”
The shocking backstory on U.S. relations with the UN and specifically with the Human Rights Council is that in 2006 the Bush Administration declined to participate as a voting member, and instead assumed a permanent observer status on the Human Rights Council after the UN General Assembly restructured it in response to criticisms, asserting that the reforms did not correct the problems that existed in the Human Rights Commission, the Council’sÂ predecessor. Â The Commission had come under harsh criticism in recent years by its nearly exclusive focus on Israeli human rights abuses, to the exclusion of other countries engaged in egregious practices and inclusion of member states with negative human rights records, for example, Libya, which currently participates in the 47-member Council.
Read: Â “UN Inaugural Review of U.S. Human Rights Record Begins in Geneva“
When Obama took office, the U.S. notified the UN that it would seek election to the Council once again. President Barack Obama strongly supports multi-lateral engagement and the international bodies that advance such cooperation, most evident in his decision-making on the Libyan intervention — first seeking multi-lateral support with key partners, Great Britain, France, Canada, Â the Arab League and NATO allies.
This policy shift was elaborated upon in great detail by Samantha Power, Special Assistant to President Obama and Senior Director of Multilateral Affairs at National Security Council, who delivered a speech titled “Obama, Human Rights, and the Lessons of New Diplomacy” at Columbia University on Monday evening.
Thanks to her advocacy for armed intervention for humanitarian reasons, Power has emerged as one of Obama’s key advisers on the Libyan intervention, resulting in a spate of profiles about her on the pages The Boston Globe, The New York Times and The Nation in recent days.
Power, a Pulitzer Prize winning author of A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, made the strong case that the Obama Administration, across a spectrum of agencies,Â but repeatedly mentioning the leadership of Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State’s initiatives, for examples, starting a legal fund for human rights defenders who have been unjustly imprisoned, just to name one of many initiatives by the Obama Administration.
Samantha Power at Columbia University–comments on the Human Rights Council statement condemning violence against LGBT persons are at 49:30-:53
During her lecture, Power specifically referred to the U.S. government’s work within the Human Rights Council, approaching it in partnership with Indonesia, South Africa and Brazil on non-country specific initiatives, for example establishing a Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly and Association.
Establishing a working group mechanism to prohibit discrimination against women across all conventions and on LGBT human rights she said:
“In our work together, in a groundbreaking cross-regional statement, calling for the end of violence against LGBT persons just last week…It shouldn’t be radical to get a statement like that, but to get 85 countries in the international system to sign onto a LGBT statement is significant and I think again, a move in the right direction.”
The State Department issued a fact sheet today on U.S. initiatives within the UN Human Rights Council.
Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs atÂ Columbia University, who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is aÂ Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.
(image: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on Spirit Day, which honored teens who succumbed to suicideÂ because of anti-LGBT bullying.)
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Fox News’ Sean Hannity Whines Charging Trump With ‘Obscure’ Obstruction Is Unfair
Fox News host Sean Hannity suggested on Tuesday’s edition of his radio show that the possibility of former President Donald Trump getting charged with obstruction of justice is unfair because President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton never had their homes “raided” by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“So you know, and here’s the other problem, you know, with top secret classified documents. So what they’re doing here is they’re not going to go after what they thought was the crime. Because they didn’t raid Hillary Clinton’s residences. They didn’t raid Joe Biden’s four places where he had top secret classified information. No,” Hannity complained.
Both Clinton and Biden cooperated with federal investigators. Refusing to do so, or impeding their work, is considered obstruction, which is a felony.
READ MORE: Trump’s attorneys just walked into DOJ amid swelling indictment anticipation
“So they’ll look to something obscure,” Hannity continued. “‘Well, as a result of the investigation, it is alleged that Donald Trump obstructed justice’ — blah blah blah blah blah. Which, by the way, I would argue, legally, he doesn’t have any obligation to cooperate with, and nor can anyone give a real definition of whether or not, you know, exactly how one president is supposed to declassify the materials anyway.”
Trump has claimed that he declassified documents psychically and that they automatically had that status once he took them from the White House. Those statements are not just false — Trump was recorded acknowledging the limits to his power to declassify certain items, such as war plans for an attack on Iran.
Hannity then said that “it’s not going to have anything to do with the documents themselves, except it’ll be a process crime. That is my prediction.”
There are many indicators that Trump could facing an espionage charge (among a litant of others), as recently highlighted by experts.
READ MORE: ‘Nihilistic moron’ Trump heading for another indictment: George Conway
“They’re gonna go down the process crime route and they won’t apply the same standards to Joe, just like they didn’t apply the same standards to the Hillary, and whatever bone they throw you on Hunter is the low-hanging fruit that does not get to the heart of the family business with a multitude of countries that they were paid a fortune from,” Hannity added. “And we still haven’t gotten the final numbers, and clearly, Hunter Biden with no experience was leading up the effort and implicates his own father. They’re gonna stay as far away from the real crux of what legality would impact Joe Biden and just go after Donald Trump, to just continue their policies of politicizing or criminalizing political differences.”
Listen below via Media Matters for America or at this link.
READ MORE: Ex-DOJ official: Trump keeping ‘war plans’ makes it ‘inconceivable’ that he will escape indictment
Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license
Double Bombshell: Mark Meadows and Trump’s Secret Service Agents Have Testified, NYT Reports
The New York Times late Tuesday afternoon published two separate reports revealing previously unknown details from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s double-pronged investigation into Donald Trump’s likely unlawful actions, including that investigators have interviewed or subpoenaed approximately two dozen people who are among those who know the ex-president best: Mark Meadows, Trump’s final White House Chief of Staff, and “more than 20” of the ex-president’s Secret Service agents.
The Times, pointing to the “surprise revelation” that a federal grand jury has been convened in Florida, reports Meadows has testified before the grand jury, presumably in Washington, D.C. The 20 or more members of the ex-president’s Secret Service detail have either testified before the D.C. grand jury or been subpoenaed to do so.
Meadows is a “key witness” who allegedly was intimately aware or involved in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and he is believed to also have knowledge of the ex-president’s likely unlawful handling of classified and top secret documents.
Suggesting there could be “unknown complexities” with the revelation of a Florida grand jury, The Times reports Special Counsel Jack Smith’s D.C. grand jury appears to have stopped hearing testimony recently from witnesses, while the one in the Sunshine State “began hearing evidence last month,” but has seen “only a handful of witnesses.”
READ MORE: Jim Jordan Demands Merrick Garland Hand Over Documents Authorizing Special Counsel’s Trump Investigation
Based on “people familiar with the matter,” The Times explains, “if both grand juries are in operation, it suggests that prosecutors are considering bringing charges in both Washington and Florida. It is possible that Mr. Trump could be charged in one jurisdiction while other people involved in the case are charged in the other.”
“But if only the Florida grand jury is currently hearing testimony, it suggests two possibilities,” The Times explains. “One is that the investigation in Washington is largely complete and that prosecutors are now poised to make a decision about bringing charges there while still weighing other potential indictments in Florida.”
Other possibilities are that the Special Counsel believes Florida is the proper venue to file charges against Trump, in the documents probe, or even that the Florida grand jury was convened to accommodate “local witnesses.”
But former Deputy Asst. Attorney General Harry Litman told MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace Tuesday that if the Special Counsel files charges in the wrong venue, the entire case “can go away” and cannot be retried.
READ MORE: Buttigieg: Republicans Are Targeting LGBTQ People Because They ‘Don’t Want to Talk About’ Their Own ‘Radical Positions’
“I think Smith has made all his decisions,” Litman added. “The fact that there was this meeting yesterday, only happens when everything’s final. I think there’s a draft indictment and everything, but a very important strategic decision is venue, and I think that they’re pursuing something separate in the Southern District of Florida.”
Meanwhile, The Times notes that “Mr. Meadows has kept largely out of sight, and some of Mr. Trump’s advisers believe he could be a significant witness in the inquiries.” Apparently, even Trump has “at times asked aides questions about how Mr. Meadows is doing, according to a person familiar with the remarks.”
Meadows’ attorney, George Terwilliger, played coy when asked about his client’s possible grand jury testimony. Terwilliger told The Times, “Without commenting on whether or not Mr. Meadows has testified before the grand jury or in any other proceeding, Mr. Meadows has maintained a commitment to tell the truth where he has a legal obligation to do so.”
In addition to his knowledge, if not participation in efforts to overturn the election, and his knowledge of Trump’s mishandling and possible attempts to obstruct the Dept. of Justice’s investigation into the classified documents, Meadows “tangentially” is involved in a meeting that Special Counsel Smith now has recorded audio of. Although he was not present, that meeting was about Meadows’ book. In the audio, Trump allegedly made clear he knew the highly-classified Pentagon document had not been declassified, shattering his stated defense, and he allegedly said he wanted to share it, which could lead to more legal troubles for him.
Andrew Weissmann, a former top DOJ official, tweeted in response to the Times’ story on Meadows, “Did he plead or was he given immunity?”
Professor of law at NYU Law, Ryan Goodman, a former Special Counsel for the Dept. of Defense, served up this equation:
“Put these 2 things together and what do you have? 1) Meadows ‘has testified before a federal grand jury…in the investigations being led by the special counsel’s office’! 2) Meadow’s actions seem to be kept secret from Trump team! Answer: A cooperator?”
Buttigieg: Republicans Are Targeting LGBTQ People Because They ‘Don’t Want to Talk About’ Their Own ‘Radical Positions’
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg blasted Republicans attacking the LGBTQ community on Tuesday, saying the reason right-wing lawmakers have decided to target them is they don’t want to talk about their “radical positions,” including opposing President Joe Biden’s massive infrastructure law and other accomplishments, like $35 insulin.
Appearing on MSNBC, Secretary Buttigieg was asked to weigh in on the Human Rights Campaign’s declaration earlier in the day, of a national emergency in the U.S. for LGBTQ people.
“We have officially declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people in the United States for the first time following an unprecedented and dangerous spike in anti-LGBTQ+ legislative assaults sweeping state houses this year,” the organizations says on its website. “More than 75 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been signed into law this year alone, more than doubling last year’s number, which was previously the worst year on record.”
HRC also published a detailed chart by state on various issues, including bans on gender-affirming care, sports participation, drag, or support for forced student outing.
And while HRC points to the more than 75 bills that have been signed into law this year, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says it’s currently tracking 491 anti-LGBTQ bills across the country.
READ MORE: Bill Barr Slams Trump: DOJ Not ‘Conducting a Witch Hunt’ – ‘He Jerked Them Around’ – ‘No Excuse for What He Did’
“Our country is at a very real risk of backsliding on freedom and equality but that is exactly why we continue to push. There has been extraordinary work that’s been done just in this presidency,” Buttigieg said, responding to HRC’s national emergency declaration. He specifically pointed to “the President being able to sign the Respect for Marriage Act.”
“And if you zoom out to the progress that’s been made in the last 10 or 15 years, including the ability of somebody like me to be standing here doing this job, it’s extraordinary, and yet, now you see the attacks on the LGBTQ community, especially on the trans community and what they’re going through,” Buttigieg, who is the first out gay U.S. Cabinet Secretary, told MSNBC’s Chris Jansing.
“And I think it’s being done out of the perception that it is politically convenient to target vulnerable groups. And honestly, I think where it largely comes from is folks who don’t want to talk about why they were against the infrastructure loans, building roads and bridges. They don’t want to talk about why they were against $35 insulin that the President delivered for Medicare recipients. They don’t want to explain why they were for these radical positions that speak to what those people are worried about their everyday lives.”
RELATED: ‘Can’t Take a Joke’: Mike Pence Doubles Down on His Homophobic Attack Against Pete Buttigieg (Video)
“So they’re focused on targeting some of the people who already do not have a very easy time going about everyday life,” he said.
“Think about how hard it is to be a teenager to begin with. But think about how hard it is to be a teenager when you realize that you are different when you’re coming to terms with your gender identity or you’re coming to terms with realizing that you’re gay or lesbian.”
“The last thing you need in your life are politicians trying to score political points by making things worse for you. We’re gonna stand together, whether it’s pride or just on any given day and say no, we’re going to expand, not withdraw, the freedoms and equalities we won in this country, and we’re going to build on them.”
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