“Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”
Such were the resonant words of Hillary Rodham Clinton in her LGBT rights speech to the Geneva Convention on December 6, 2011. The former First Lady, Senator and current Secretary of State conveyed in a concise thirty minutes the urgency of gay rights and true equality that has taken decades for the United States to come to terms with.
Clinton spoke bravely on her beliefs and of the Obama administration’s plan to seek human rights overseas despite the varied opinions of her audience. For many gay rights activists around the world, Clinton’s speech was heard as an important discussion-starter for countries around the world. Arvind Narrain of the Lawyers Collective in India took especial notice in her mention of other socially advanced countries.
Politicians are not the only members of society that can take an effective stance for gay rights. Pullen Memorial Baptist Church pastor Nancy Petty, a lesbian, has refused to officiate heterosexual marriages until gays can be married in North Carolina as well. To her congregation, Petty asked, “Do we, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, want to continue to participate in offering religious ceremonies…that are not afforded to all people? Or will it be our practice…to honor all marriages equally…thus not…perpetuating the unjust marriage laws of our state?”
Leesville’s own Gay-Straight Alliance club has been actively informing students of current inequalities and how they can be rectified as well as recruiting new members to the group.
Jessica Matthis felt inspired by Clinton’s speech. “This is a huge deal,” decided Matthis, “finally people will see the importance of electing pro-equality candidates.”
“The generosity of mentioning the gains in South Africa, Brazil, India, and Nepal conveyed a wider sense of ownership of these issues,” said Narrain according to advocate.com.
Narrain brings up an excellent point about the discussion of equal human rights. Many leaders feel that the United States is more likely to impact the progression of the rest of the world by accepting gay rights and providing equality laws. Devin Glasgow, sophomore, remembers the principles of the United States’ founding. “Hillary Clinton has really shown what the United States was built off of over two centuries ago: freedom and equality.”
Beyond the world of politics and community leaders, many students at Leesville promote gay rights without hesitation. An online poll by the examiner.com showed that 75% of teens support gay marriage and full equality for gay people. This result favors the opinion that, over time, more young people are in favor of equality, compared to the very-present sexism of the 1960’s and 70’s. Following this trend, dozens of Leesville students posted the speech to Facebook accounts and hosted discussions on comment threads via the Internet regarding Clinton’s speech. A wave of appreciation for Clinton’s boldness swept many teens off their feet and in the direction of pro-equality in the Raleigh area alone.
“I think [the speech] was perfect and said pretty much everything that I believe with this whole gay rights situation,” said Maggie Young, senior. Young went on to question the core beliefs of Christianity and the principles of one-man-one-woman unions. “It bothers me that people who call themselves Christians are the ones saying that “gays” will go to hell. Last I checked, God accepts everyone the way they are. I could be wrong though; it has been a while since I read the Bible.”
Michael Rowe, a devout Christian and Leesville senior agrees with the pro-gay rights stance and defies Young’s perception of Christians. “Everyone is equal,” Rowe said simply. “If someone doesn’t like gay marriage then they should not do it. It is not like gay rights will make straight people gay or effect straight people in the slightest.”
Hillary Clinton used direct text from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to recall a powerful idea and simple thought, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. And with the declaration, it was made clear that rights are not conferred by government; they are the birthright of all people.”
Virginia Reed is a superb writer and an even better friend. She enjoys unhealthy foods and writing sarcastic articles. Virginia is the Online Editor for the 2011-12 school year and was a Managing Editor for the 2010-11 year but has not forgotten her humble beginnings as a staff writer when she was a wee sophomore. Her goals for the future are to get an A in newspaper and to apply to college in a timely fashion.