- The American Conservative - https://www.theamericanconservative.com -

On right to life, some people are more equal than others

You have heard, no doubt, about the new Obama administration policy [1]committing US diplomacy to punishing countries where gay people are persecuted:

The Obama administration bluntly warned the world against gay and lesbian discrimination Tuesday, declaring the U.S. will use foreign assistance as well as diplomacy to back its insistence that gay rights are fully equal to other basic human rights.

In unusually strong language, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton compared the struggle for gay equality to difficult passages toward women’s rights and racial equality, and she said a country’s cultural or religious traditions are no excuse for discrimination.

“Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights,” she said. “It should never be a crime to be gay.”

Magister Parnassus comments: [2]

I do not think a person should be abused or killed because he or she desires his or her own gender or practices homosexuality.  I also do not think a person should be abused he or she is a child or killed because he or she lives inside a womb.  My question, then, is this.  Why is abuse and killing of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgendered (LGBT) people more worthy of the bully pulpit that is the the United States thanchildren caught up the sex trafficking trade [3] or those butchered in the womb [4]?  Why do they deserve more protection than Christians killed for their faith [5]? … Are there more crimes against LGBT people around the world than against children?  Are there more crimes committed in response to sexual orientation than in response to religion?

I agree, and would also ask: how far do we take this? I would think (I would hope and pray) that even the most committed opponent of gay marriage would oppose laws in other lands that condemn homosexuals to death or imprisonment simply for being gay. Insofar as the Obama policy advances this goal, I support it. The mess in Uganda is evil.

But does this new policy mean that countries who do not embrace same-sex marriage are going to be disadvantaged in their diplomatic relations with the US? Will this mean that gays are more privileged in this way than victims of religious discrimination? (I’m asking sincerely; perhaps the US already makes religious freedom a priority in its diplomacy, in precisely this way.) If, for the sake of argument, the US does make pushing for religious freedom a priority in its diplomacy, what happens when that priority clashes with the new gay rights push?

Advertisement
27 Comments (Open | Close)

27 Comments To "On right to life, some people are more equal than others"

#1 Comment By Bill H On December 7, 2011 @ 3:50 pm

For what it’s worth, the State Department does make religious freedom a self-declared priority in international diplomacy. They even have an entire office, webpage, and annual report devoted to it.

[6]

I say “self-declared” because, like most areas of diplomacy, it’s a priority until it’s not. I don’t think that Saudi Arabia suffers much due to it’s classification as a “Country of Concern” in the report, but it gives people useful talking points when needed. Similarly, I doubt that it will suffer much due to it’s presumably bad treatment of homosexuals.

#2 Comment By Matt On December 7, 2011 @ 3:53 pm

The gay-rights-diplomacy memo (it really is just a memo) is toothless and contains no prescriptions for changing anything regarding foreign aid.

[7]

It “directs a standing group” which is “intended to direct” a “coordinated response” among various government agencies. It “does not specify… any specific actions… sanctions, remedies, or diplomatic initiatives…”

The point of the memo was a) to make Obama look good to gay people, who, now that DADT is gone, want either marriage or a federal nondiscrimination law, neither of which he will do anything about, and b) to bait Republicans running for president to respond, in order to draw a “clear contrast” among the two in rhetoric, if not in actual reality.

Nothing is actually going to change. The government will continue to give money to countries that treat gay people badly, and to countries that treat them well, based on its calculus which values things like natural resources, religious affiliations, etc., about 1 billion times more so than the gays.

#3 Comment By Vincent On December 7, 2011 @ 4:01 pm

“If, for the sake of argument, the US does make pushing for religious freedom a priority in its diplomacy, what happens when that priority clashes with the new gay rights push?”

I don’t see how an expansion of gay rights would threaten one’s freedom to express their religion. I’m assuming you’re referring to the “gay rights push” in America.

#4 Comment By Franklin Evans On December 7, 2011 @ 4:10 pm

Sorry, Rod, but “Magister” dives head-first into a tu quoque argument by ignoring the fact that human trafficking has long since advanced from the bully pulpit to active law enforcement and diplomatic efforts. It doesn’t need to be shouted from the rooftops 24/7 to be in the public awareness. I hear or read about major sting operations and large-scale arrests every few weeks. “Magister” apparently doesn’t want to do research.

#5 Comment By MIke On December 7, 2011 @ 4:13 pm

But does this new policy mean that countries who do not embrace same-sex marriage are going to be disadvantaged in their diplomatic relations with the US?

Since it isn’t embraced by the U.S. or the president, why would one assume that the State Department would make it a priority in a world where fewer than 10 countries recognize it and our own country isn’t one of those 10?

If, for the sake of argument, the US does make pushing for religious freedom a priority in its diplomacy, what happens when that priority clashes with the new gay rights push?

Clinton thoroughly addressed this. She said that the policy was created recognizing that religious disagreements existed, but that religious excuses would not be tolerated if they are done to cover up torture or abuse.

#6 Comment By Robert On December 7, 2011 @ 4:13 pm

I agree that it is a calculated political move. I seriously doubt it will transpire into any sort of diplomatic move against Nations that do don’t allow same sex marriage-that would be completely unworkable (and includes most of the USA and Europe at any rate).

It is unclear to me why Rod has spun this so far as to suggest that the (US promotion of the) right to be free from execution and life in prison for being homosexual will conflict with religious freedom- which a previous comment has indicated the US does promote. It is unclear why the header for the post hinted at some sort of “special right” for gay people in this regard.

#7 Comment By Thomas O. Meehan On December 7, 2011 @ 4:15 pm

Rod wrote “I agree, and would also ask: how far do we take this? I would think (I would hope and pray) that even the most committed opponent of gay marriage would oppose laws in other lands that condemn homosexuals to death or imprisonment simply for being gay.” How about simply minding our own business?

If we must teach other countries and peoples who to behave, I have the following suggestions. Financial aid must be contingent on:

1. Washing of hands before food preparation.
2. No spitting in the street.
3. No nose picking.
4. No smoking.
5. No hurting of women’s feelings.

Etc.

#8 Comment By MS On December 7, 2011 @ 5:03 pm

Yes pressing colonial concern.

A baby in the womb, and member of the human family, may or may not have human rights (it’s all above B.O.’s pay grade) as long as everyone is free to kill anyway (aided by PP subsidy, philosophically illiterate SCOTUS and State Department resources).

We can’t have the feminist, Sanger, Kinsey (divorce, poverty, abortion, racism, perversion)- Rockefeller’s funding legacy – imperilled! It is our manifest destiny to will to make it all universal.
[8]

Give us liberty! give us sodomy, child sacrifice and a God-free society. We have no King but Caesar, lifting rulers in our own image is no danger. They will use this ‘liberty’ well. What they do to babies they won’t do to our cash.
[9]

#9 Comment By Edward Hamilton On December 7, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

I’m totally in favor of the US advocating for liberty, in the weak sense of “negative rights”. Hillary is correct to say that it shouldn’t be a crime to be gay, and that the US has some interest in recognizing and penalizing the illiberality of such a regime. I’d say the same thing if it were a conservative administration trying to pressure foreign nations on abortion. (Our largest foreign aid beneficiary, Israel, has been providing free abortions as a public service for a while, which has elicited a curious silence from evangelicals.)

But that’s not at all the same thing as saying that a country has a positive obligation to promote gay rights in the same way as a Western democracy. The Obama administration should consider disentangling these two concepts, and try to create a social consensus around the value of the former despite disagreement over the latter. That would probably create a portion of the policy that would even survive into a future Republican administration.

Or alternatively, if it just wants to gin up its voter base to win elections, it should pass a single policy that does both at once, wait for conservatives to object to the latter, and make disingenuous claims that the objectors are really opposed to the former – up to and including laws to sentence gays to death. (“Why does the Right want all gays to be executed?!”)

Which is what it actually will do, obviously. It’s an election year.

#10 Comment By dominick amendola On December 7, 2011 @ 5:43 pm

its things like this that explain why the left is subservient to the Obama cult he is a tool of the rich and a warmongering imperialist but he likes gays so everything else is just fine after all those Muslims are all homophobic so they deserve to be murdered on a daily basis i mean just yesterday lady gaga went to the white house to meet with Obama’s staff and talk about there anti-bullying ironic since Obama and his gang are the biggest bully’s on the planet its disgusting just disgusting

#11 Comment By Mme. Chiang Kai-shek On December 7, 2011 @ 6:27 pm

At first glance it’s peculiar that this empty and modest PR stunt is generating such outrage on the right. Seriously folks, there is no chance that the administration will actually try to undertake any substantive action on behalf of persecuted gays against an American ally. Realpolitik almost always wins out, even when POPULAR minorities are being brutalized by an ally. We’re not going to tear up our deals with Saudi Arabia or Qatar or UAE over gay folk.

And yet, quite a few American conservatives–Rick Perry, for one–are on the warpath. Why is this? Contra Rod, I suspect that quite a few American rightists would in fact like to see gays be criminally punished. Why else would one defend the right of foreign states to kill or jail gay people? In the last analysis, that’s the issue on the table here–not the “concern” that this initiative will somehow interfere with religious freedom. (Never thought I’d see the day when the religious right in the USA would draw the sword for the “religious freedom” to impose shariah’s capital punishments! Will y’all also fight for Saudi Wahhabists’ “right” to execute converts to Christianity?)

In my experience, most members of the religious right want gays to be as civilly and criminally disabled as is politically possible. They’ll take civil unions over civil marriage, but prefer no legal recognition at all for gay unions to civil unions. And they prefer active punishment to a purely silent legal stance. (Hence the fierce opposition to abolishing sodomy laws, as recently as 2003.) There doesn’t seem to be any social conservative idea that gays should have a certain level of basic rights, either in their relationships or in the security of their persons. There’s more or less just a base desire to injure LGBT folk to whatever degree is politically feasible. This extends to wanting gays to be jailed or killed in countries where such things are possible.

#12 Comment By Andrea On December 7, 2011 @ 7:22 pm

I worried a bit when I read about that speech and about the stony-faced reaction of the ambassadors and other representatives, etc. I think our policy should be to sanction countries that have policies of killing or imprisoning people for being gay or outright persecute them. But I doubt it’s in our national best interest to alienate every country that doesn’t have perfect equality for gays and straights.Lord knows we don’t share the values of China, Saudi Arabia or some of our other close allies and that doesn’t seem to prevent us from doing business.

#13 Comment By Mitchell Young On December 7, 2011 @ 8:04 pm

You’re buying into the whole ‘gay’ construct. There are homosexual tendencies, yes, but ‘gay’ is a strictly 20th century western invention.

Do I think Iran should hang men who like to engage in sodomy — no. Do I think my tax dollars should be used in a campaign to legitimize sodomy, no.

#14 Comment By Monterey On December 7, 2011 @ 8:57 pm

If only Hillary and Barack would club China with the message that it’s not a crime to be baby girl. Sheesh

#15 Comment By JonF On December 7, 2011 @ 9:39 pm

Re: Do I think my tax dollars should be used in a campaign to legitimize sodomy, no

Well, in this parruclar case it’s a matter of your tax dollars NOT being used, so all should be well. I mean, I’d rather my tax dollars not be used to promote false religions, but I’d be perfectly happy to hear we were withholding aid from countries that persecute the Baha’i, the Paresses, the Jehovah Witnesses and so forth. Wouldn’t you?

And this is not about sodomy anyway. It’s about homosexuality. The two are not synonymous.

#16 Comment By Dimitry Aleksandrovich On December 8, 2011 @ 2:17 am

Down with the U.S.A.! I’m moving to Tehran…I’m only half joking. This American experiment has somehow, somewhere taken a very wrong turn. Where do Obama and Clinton get off trying to impose this kind of libertine sexuality on the rest of the world when even here in America the issue of homosexuals given rights as a group is a very divisive issue? As for Uganda and other places where homosexuals are oppressed it is none of our business, just as nations where Christians are oppressed it is none of our business. This is the United States of America not the LGBT States of America and not the Evangelical Christian States of America either. I don’t care if an American supports the Roman Catholic Church, or Hamas, or if he supports the gay singles night at the local disco just as long as all Americans understand that the only way this Republic is to survive is to remain a Constitutional Republic where no one group (regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual inclination) is given preference over another one. Well that’s my rant for tonight.

#17 Comment By JonF On December 8, 2011 @ 6:04 am

Dmitry,
To the extent those countries are feeding at our trough it is our business. Maybe our “wrong turn” was back a century ago when we took it on ourselves to become a world power. But since we have become such a power we cannot ignore evils done by clients who are on our payroll.

#18 Comment By David J. White On December 8, 2011 @ 10:16 am

I don’t see how an expansion of gay rights would threaten one’s freedom to express their religion.

You don’t see how someone could be charged with a “hate crime” for “expressing” the traditional Jewish and Christian teaching that homosexual activity is morally wrong? I certainly can!

#19 Comment By JMasson On December 8, 2011 @ 11:09 am

“And this is not about sodomy anyway. It’s about homosexuality. The two are not synonymous.”

It seems to me that it is about sodomy. My understanding is that in the countries in question homosexual acts are illegal not homosexual feelings or desires. Sodomy would fall into the category or homosexual act, as it is defined as any form of sexual intercourse considered to be unnatural or chiefly anal intercourse. In the countries in question homosexual acts would be considered to be unnatural (which is why they are illegal), and homosexual acts clearly include anal intercourse.
Now the bigger issue is this idea of defining oneself by ones sexual tendencies which is a rather disturbing western concept, and one I don’t think we should be imposing on other cultures. I say disturbing not out of any malice towards those who define themselves as gay, but at the very idea that a human being should be defined by his sexual desires and that he is incapable of resisting those desires.

#20 Comment By MIke On December 8, 2011 @ 11:49 am

You don’t see how someone could be charged with a “hate crime” for “expressing” the traditional Jewish and Christian teaching that homosexual activity is morally wrong? I certainly can!

We aren’t talking about “hate crimes,” we are talking about imprisonment, torture, and killings. Traditional Jews and Christians in the U.S. do themselves and the issue a disservice by pretending they are all about to be tossed in the slammer or punished (or accused of international human rights violations) for saying gays are immoral but doing nothing else.

#21 Comment By Kenny On December 8, 2011 @ 12:44 pm

Rod may wish to take a look at the Scotland For Marriage website – [10] . Scotland for Marriage is a campaign to support marriage as the union of one man and one woman. It is supported by:

CARE for Scotland
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland
The Christian Institute
Destiny Churches, Scotland
The Evangelical Alliance
The Family Education Trust

The Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church in Scotland also oppose the SNP government’s gay marriage proposals.

#22 Comment By Dimitry Aleksandrovich On December 8, 2011 @ 4:46 pm

JonF- “Dmitry,To the extent those countries are feeding at our trough it is our business.”

Jon that’s exacltly the reason why we need to follow Ron Paul’s line of reasoning and completely cut foreign aid across the board to ALL COUNTRIES.

#23 Comment By philosopher On December 8, 2011 @ 8:04 pm

“I agree, and would also ask: how far do we take this?” I do think that the public discourse in general would be improved if everyone would keep firmly in mind that, in order to run a slippery slope argument, you need to actually present an argument that the slope is actually _slippery_. Pointing out that there is a continuum of cases is just insufficient to doing that. In this case, it’s enough to think that the slope is likely not at all slippery here to recognize that the kind of harms cited in Sec. Clinton’s speech — “targeted killings of gays, “corrective rape” of lesbians or forced hormone treatments” — are of an entirely different level from being the harm of being prevented from being allowed to marry whomever one likes. There’s only a slippery slope here if you think that the distinction between these sorts of harms can be successfully blurred in the moral vision of a majority of the population. And that just seems to be an empirical improbability.

As a general rule, I actually think that people just shouldn’t try to make slippery slope arguments, period. It’s just a kind of argument that, on the one hand, people often find has a strongly persuasive _feel_ to it, but on the other hand, it’s usually done fallaciously. A dangerous combo, that.

#24 Comment By JonF On December 8, 2011 @ 8:48 pm

I’m happy to reconsider the matter of foreign aid, though I think we do need to continue purely humanitarian aid.
But again, we cannot turn a blind eye to atrocities. The sun does not rise in the Atlantic and set in the Pacific, and while we ought not roam the globe seeking dragons to slay, at the very least we should hold monsters up to shame and derision. The Founders appealed to the “reasonable opinions of mankind”. Well we are part of that, and keeping silent in the face of bloody-thirsty crimes makes us complicit.

Jmason: sodomy was long understood as anal sex. If someone uses the verbal form, “sodomize” isn’t that what you understand it to mean? The transference of this word, which had no gender limitations originally, to mean purely same-sex relations (or any sort) is a modern corruption of the term, and also of the moral ideas behind it. Gay people may or may not practice sodomy, and in any event we ought avoid the prurience of inquiring, even in imagination, as to what others do in the privacy of their bedrooms.

#25 Comment By Dimitry Aleksandrovich On December 9, 2011 @ 5:12 pm

JonF…What about the monsters within our own government? What about the ones who have rubber stamped U.S. military actions that have resulted in the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands if not millions since the end of the Cold War? What if instead of seeking dragons to slay that we have become the Dragon? I am a non-interventionist and a Constitutionalist Republican (as opposed to a G.O.P. Republican) and quite possibly an ultra-nationalist who believes that our interests should not lie in foreign lands but in taking care of our own people here in the United States.

I propose that we let the American people themselves send foreign aid to their cousins, coreligionists and ideological kin in other parts of the world. It should be a completely private matter. If American Jews want to send money to defend the state of Israel let them and if Palestinians want to send money to support their oppressed kin in the Holy Land let them do that as well. Does that make sense?

#26 Comment By BobN On December 10, 2011 @ 1:00 am

How anyone could claim any authority on commenting on religion and not be aware of the long-standing U.S. policies protecting religious minorities and pushing other nations to do the same, even going so far as to fund the migration of millions of Jews out of the Soviet Unions and hundreds of thousands of Christians out of Arab nations and into the U.S.

But I guess Rod doesn’t mind being made to look a fool if he imagines there’s some anti-gay point he can score. I look forward to his raving if and when the Obama administration makes good on its claim to take asylum requests from gay people more seriously. Or maybe we can spare ourselves that with an agreement: for every Egyptian Copt, a gay Egyptian. Deal?

#27 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On December 10, 2011 @ 3:11 pm

I agree with Rod, Mitchell, Andrea, Edward, and philosopher. Do we have the basis for a broad national consensus here?