Friday, June 09, 2006

Which Human Rights?

Each time President Bush steps up to a podium and speaks his mantra about establishing and maintaining Democracy and Human Rights throughout the World, I have to bite my tongue. How can this man knowingly stand before the nation on one day and support a Federal Marriage Amendment that would deny Human Rights to a whole class of individuals in the United States while arguing the next day that we have to fight for Human Rights around the world. There is such intense irony in the image of his smirking face calling me a threat to marriage. There is irony in his own hypocrisy.

I understand Democracy and think that we are doing the right thing to move forward from Democracy 1.0 as defined by our own Constitution and it emphasis on majority rule. Whichever release of Democracy we have today that makes more use of parliamentary style government of coalitions and compromise seems more realistic for today's world. I feel that the good of more people is served when several smaller parties can come together to hammer out an agenda that represents them all, at least to some extent. Gridlock of two parties where one group of idiots can completely shut out the legislative agenda of the other group is flawed at its core and leads to lack of leadership and lame-duck governments. This will lead to resignation or to revolution in its most extreme cases. If we are lucky, it will lead to the first successful impeachment of an American President through the alienation of a majority of the public.

What I don't get is who is allowed to define Human Rights. I think we could certainly borrow from the American Bill of Rights, but shouldn't we also borrow from the French Government's example of the Déclaration des Droits de L'Homme (Declaration of the Rights of Man)? I am sure that the United Nations charter must have included some similar, gender-inclusive version that we could use. Either way, it seems absolutely important that we allow people the right to live their lives genuinely as the people that they are. That includes Freedom of and from Religion as well as freedom of sexuality and gender expression.

Granted, I recognize that many countries in the World are theocratic and therein lies the rub. In those countries, many people who have different religious or sexual identities are often persecuted by the government to the point of death by execution or torture. If we are not careful to prevent the insinuation of religious dogma into our political arena here in the US, we could soon be dealing with a discriminatory theocratic government of our own. It is a giant step from denying me over 1000 Federal Rights because I am gay to killing me for expressing my love. For that, I am thankful, but should it be the role of Religion to execute people and should it be the Role of Government to execute Religious dogma?

So, Mr. President, Senator Dole and Senator Burr, you who have supported and co-sponsored the Federal Marriage Amendment, how would you define Human Rights and Equality for an ideal World? Would it include stoning anyone who doesn't adhere to your belief system? Would you throw us off a high building? Hanging? Ostracism? How about Acceptance, Tolerance and lack of fear of those who are different from you? Could you possibly go there?

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