On the equal rights path

By: Monica Davis

Gay rights are basic human rights that we should all advocate for. Listening to Hillary Clinton’s speech about the importance of LGBT rights, so much of her talk resonated strongly with me (text version of the speech available here). Certainly, progress for LGBT equality has been difficult but that doesn’t mean that we should delay acting. It is important to hear that gay rights are basic human rights and that the LGBT community deserves the same dignity, respect, and human rights as everyone else.

Often within the South Asian community, “being gay” is discussed as an exported western phenomenon that has seeped into the South Asian culture. Clinton’s direct disputation of this misconception was refreshing.  Members of the South Asian community (in addition to other groups) also erroneously cite religious or cultural values as valid reasons for mistreating the LGBT community.  Clinton’s explicit refutation of the notion that cultural or religious values can be valid justifications for human rights violations is spot on.

The position of the United States’ Secretary of State carries great weight and  the fact that Hillary Clinton made this speech indicates a step toward progress. Of course, within the United States, the battle for LGBT equality is ongoing. When Hillary Clinton ran for President in 2008, she was opposed to marriage equality. Perhaps she has now been persuaded by her daughter to adopt a more inclusive view of rights. As the 2012 presidential election draws nearer, LGBT rights are an increasingly polarizing topic. It is likely that President Obama will remain elusive about LGBT equality in the domestic realm. However, by giving this speech in an international forum, the Obama administration was able to discuss LGBT rights in a broader framework. Given the nature of Hillary Clinton’s speech, I anticipate that if President Obama is re-elected, new governmental policies will reflect a move toward LGBT equality. This is why it is important for you to vote.

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