Hillary Clinton, Gay Rights Are Human Rights Essay

Piper Quinn Dr. Vincent English 111 October 31, 2012 Hillary Clinton, Gay Rights are Human Rights Hillary Clinton’s International Human Rights Day Address at Palais des Nations was delivered on December 6, 2011, in Geneva, Switzerland, to mark the celebration of Human Rights Day. In this speech, Clinton challenges the members of the United Nations Human Rights Council to recognize that LGBT Rights, (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender), are Human Rights.

Through the use of definition, contrast, comparison, and logic, Clinton skillfully identifies that, “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights. ” Clinton begins her speech by first discussing the historical significance of Human Rights Day. She appeals to her audience by comparatively highlighting the daunting tasks of the first delegates of the United Nations Human Rights Council while they were drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the aftermath of World War II.

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This strategy appeals to the current United Nations Human Rights Council because these are tasks they can most assuredly identify with as council members themselves. Clinton further engages the members of the council by acknowledging the historical significance of the delegates work when she says: At three o’clock in the morning on December 10th, 1948, after nearly two years of drafting and one last long night of debate, the president of the UN General Assembly called for a vote on the final text. Forty-eight nations voted in favor; eight abstained; none dissented.

And the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted. This is a clever strategy because the council members now identify themselves with the original council members who made history when the Declaration of Human Rights was adopted. That flattered the current council members into thinking that their own adopted policies could be recognized in a similar fashion in the future. Clinton shifts to recognize the progress the world has made in the 63 years since the Declaration was adopted, “in making human rights a human reality. She successfully appeals to the minority groups that have most felt the positive effects from this progress, identifying that, “racist laws have been repealed, legal and social practices that relegated women to second-class status have been abolished, the ability of religious minorities to practice their faith freely has been secured. ” She further identifies with these minority groups by describing the actions that they have taken over the years in order to repeal these laws, legal and social practices, reminding everyone, “this progress was not easily won. Clinton instantly adds to her own credibility in speaking on this topic by specifically naming women as part of these minority groups that have benefitted from the progress. Not only is Clinton female, she is also old enough to have personally experienced the effects of some of these advances herself, firsthand. Face it, 40 years ago our country would not have dreamt of having a female Secretary of State, yet today Hillary Clinton is exactly that. Clinton then moves on to acknowledge the work to be done presently and in the future to protect the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people.

Secretary Clinton acknowledges that the United States’ record of human rights for gay people is far from perfect and she defines many of the ways that LGBT people’s human rights were and are consistently violated. In acknowledging the fault of her own country for not recognizing and protecting the rights of LGBT people, she expresses her own humility and successfully appeals to the other council members who most likely have experienced similar situations in their own countries.

Clinton moves to address the sensitivity of this issue by acknowledging the obstacles of, “deeply held personal, political, cultural, and religious beliefs,” that stand in the way of protecting “the human rights of LGBT citizens everywhere. ” Secretary Clinton then breaks these obstacles into five issues that must be overcome. The first obstacle she describes, “goes to the heart of the matter. Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct; but, in fact, they are one and the same. She acknowledges that when the original council members wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights they were not thinking of how it applied to LGBT community. Then, she cleverly argues that they weren’t thinking of indigenous, disabled or marginalized people either but that we have come to recognize that these people are entitled to the same rights because they share a common humanity. The second issue is defined as a question of whether homosexuality is a “Western phenomenon. ” Clinton is successful in her evaluation of this issue when she explains that homosexual people, “are orn into and belong to every society in the world. ” She further describes them as, “our family, our friends, and our neighbors. ” This strategy appeals to her audience because most people today know someone who is part of the LGBT community. Clinton addresses the third issue as being people who cite religious or cultural values as justification for violating and not protecting the rights of LGBT citizens. She successfully argues that this is the same justification offered for the violent practices against women and that “violence toward women isn’t cultural, it’s criminal. Furthermore, she argues comparing this justification with the same justification used during times of slavery, stating that, “what was once sanctioned by God is now properly reviled as an unconscionable violation of human rights. ” Through comparative analysis, Secretary Clinton successfully rationalizes her belief, and appeals to her audiences logic. Clinton then moves to identify the fourth issue as being what history teaches us about progress towards rights for all. Clinton asserts, “while we are each free to believe whatever we choose, we cannot do whatever we choose, not in a world where we protect the human rights of all. She further establishes that progress comes from change by admonishing the successful racial desegregation of our own military, arguing that rather than undermining unit cohesion, as was expected, it actually “strengthened our social fabric in ways even the supporters of the policy could not foresee. ” Clinton further suggests that, “progress comes from being willing to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes,” and successfully challenges each person to apply this challenge in their own lives.

Secretary Clinton shifts to the fifth and final issue questioning how we can do our part to help the world embrace human rights for all people including LGBT people. Secretary Clinton recognizes the invaluable courage of the LBGT activists who have given their lives for the cause but argues that it takes a cooperative effort from both sides for a barrier of progress to fall. Secretary Clinton dramatically shifts her tone as she moves to close her speech, offering the support of the United States of America in the form of, “millions of friends among the American people. She further emphasizes the support that the United States is implementing to provide this support by highlighting the comprehensive human rights policy that the Obama Administration put in place to protect the human rights of LGBT persons abroad. She encourages others to join the United States in their support by acknowledging the $3 million that the United States has committed to start this fund. In summation, Secretary Clinton is successful as she transitions through her speech. She passionately defends the rights of the LGBT community and offers a rational, calculated approach to how the progress of LGBT human rights can be achieved.

Secretary Clinton successfully identifies the five obstacles that must be overcome and provides details of the calculated strategies to overcome each. Utilizing this method of logic, she successfully establishes a clear pathway to success. Secretary Clinton truly establishes, “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights. ” Works Cited “Hillary Clinton – International Human Rights Day Address at Palais des Nations” American Rhetoric. N. p. , n. d. Web. 11 Oct. 2012.


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