This just in:

The U.S. government said that it would adopt the term “sexual rights” in discussing issues about gender identities and sexual orientation.

The statement, originally made at a United Nations meeting, came after weeks of lobbying from LGBT groups calling for the U.S. to show leadership on the issue. The new term encompasses the “right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence,” the State Department said, in a statement.

Richard Erdman, deputy U.S. ambassador to the U.N., made the announcement earlier this week, saying that “sexual rights” would refer to ones that are not legally binding.

“Sexual rights are not human rights, and they are not enshrined in international human rights law; our use of this term does not reflect a view that they are part of customary international law,” Erdman said. “It is, however, a critical expression of our support for the rights and dignity of all individuals regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

This is incredibly disingenous. So let’s take the government at its word, that it does not include “sexual rights” among those considered legally binding in international law. This is a prelude to pushing for that very thing. Here’s why it matters: if the West can get “sexual rights” written into international law, it can strongarm religiously observant Third World countries into accepting “sexual rights” as a condition of receiving development aid. Want to eat, black and brown people? Want our help fighting poverty? Then bow towards this Western idol.

I am not surprised that a government led by Barack Obama would do this. Consider the in-your-face culture-warring the White House is waging on Pope Francis:

Guests at the White House reception for Pope Francis on September 23 will include several gay and transgender persons, a controversial nun, a radical preacher and a gay Episcopal bishop.

Several of the invitations to the event, which is part of the pope’s three-city tour of America September 22-27, were offered by Vivian Taylor. Taylor, 30, considers himself transgender, which means he identifies as a sex different from his biology. Taylor has male anatomy but dresses and presents himself as female. Until March of this year he was the Executive Director of Integrity USA, a homosexual and transgender activist wing of the Episcopal Church. Taylor lives in Boston and is now freelance writing.

“A few months ago I received an invitation from the White House to attend the reception for Pope Francis,” Taylor told CNS News. “I was told I could bring several friends with me.”

Among the five people Taylor chose:

Nicole Santamaria, the Secretary of Asociacion Colectivo Alejandria, “a collective of transgender and intersex people seeking to promote awareness, provide training and education, and advocate for their community.”

I’m sure Pope Francis will handle this with typical aplomb, but it’s remarkable, just remarkable, that the White House has chosen to get so in-your-face with the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Would Obama invite Tibetan dissidents to meet the Chinese president? As a diplomatic matter, it’s unthinkable. Would he invite Ukrainian activists to a reception for Putin? In either case, the diplomatic row from the challenge would be huge. But hey, he can treat the Pope this way? Really?

These pieces of news are just another reminder of why so many religious and traditionalist people around the world resent the US government’s cultural imperialism. I don’t blame them one bit.

UPDATE: A Catholic reader sends in a typically useful John Allen article, this one about “decoding” Pope Francis for Americans. Note these items:

Ideological colonization

As history’s first pope from the developing world, Francis is keenly sensitive to perceived imbalances of power between the West and everyone else. One area he believes it shows up is efforts by Western governments and NGOs, as well as the U.N. and other global bodies, to force poor countries to abandon their traditional values as the price of receiving development assistance.

What Francis means by “ideological colonization,” for instance, would be an U.N. agency offering an African nation funding for anti-AIDS campaigns on the condition that they reduce population by a specific percentage, or allow distribution of condoms in their public clinics, or revise public school textbooks to promote family planning, or legalize same-sex marriage.

That’s what Francis had in mind when he said in the Philippines in January, for instance, that “there’s an ideological colonization we have to be careful of that tries to destroy the family.”

The phrase may come up in the States, perhaps when Francis addresses the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York on Sept. 25.

Gender theory

For most Americans, “gender theory” probably sounds like the name of a graduate seminar in a Women’s Studies program. Francis, however, uses it to mean efforts to eradicate the biological differences between men and women, or to treat those differences as culturally conditioned and therefore optional.

That’s what he had in mind during a General Audience in April, for instance, when he said, “I wonder if so-called gender theory may not also be an expression of frustration and resignation that aims to erase sexual differentiation because it no longer knows how to come to terms with it.”

“Getting rid of the difference is the problem, not the solution,” he said.

In an interview in February with two Italian journalists, Francis called gender theory a “sin” that fails to “recognize the order of creation.”

Given that background, if Francis talks about “gender theory” while he’s in the States, it probably will be a clue he’s about to say something that will appeal to the cultural right.