by Kevin Jones | When I arrived at home yesterday evening after a full day of meetings at Out & Equal, I finally had the opportunity to listen to the remarks that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered earlier in the day at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to commemorate Human Rights Day 2011. I knew in advance that her remarks would talk about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community from a human rights perspective and was anticipating a clear statement of support for the LGBT community.
Through a cursory scan of Facebook postings, I could tell that the Secretary’s statement was getting very positive reviews from my friends. None of those previews, however, prepared me for the unequivocally clear and powerful message that she delivered to the world on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Combined with the Presidential Memorandum released earlier in the morning directing all federal agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons, it felt clear to me at least that the United States is now forcefully asserting itself as a global leader in seeking equal rights for the LGBT community. Even while acknowledging, as Secretary Clinton did, that this country still has work to do here, the U.S. visibly “came out” to the world as an active and proud ally.
I have seen individuals and corporations be visible allies in the struggle for LGBT equality in the workplace through their presence and their actions, bringing leadership to a widening dialogue that is making a difference in the lives of millions. None have made a case more compelling to me for including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people as equal citizens of this planet and deserving full access to all human rights as the Secretary’s statement yesterday.
Over the past two years, I have had the pleasure of regularly representing Out & Equal on The Council for Global Equality. The Council has been working diligently – and with the State Department as a willing partner – to encourage the U.S. to take on the mantle of meaningful leadership in the protection of LGBT human rights globally. It is gratifying to see where the U.S. has come in this regard. And while the journey ahead will still be long and challenging, I hope that the Council’s leaders, funders, advisors, and partners are celebrating the unequivocal victory that yesterday’s speech represented. I hope the entire LGBT community around the world is. I certainly am.