Although the United States and Europe have made impressive strides, both culturally and legally, in the battle against homophobia, that progress has by no means been global in scope.

Homosexuality is illegal in over 70 countries, and in 13 of them, the penalty is death.

Very few of the issues that come before the United Nations are straightforward, but on September 29th, members voted on a Resolution that should have been a “slam dunk” for the U.S. The motion called upon countries in which capital punishment remains legal  to take steps to ensure that the death penalty is not imposed “arbitrarily or in a discriminatory manner” or for forms of conduct such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual homosexual relations.

As numerous outlets, including Newsweek, reported,

The United States was one of 13 nations, including some of the most repressive nations on Earth, to oppose a United Nations motion condemning the death penalty for those in same-sex relationships, blasphemers and adulterers.

Incredible as it seems, the United States voted in Geneva against that United Nations motion.  We were joined by Botswana, Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, China, India, Iraq, Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates in voting  no. That’s the company we are evidently now keeping.

The measure passed anyway, with 27 votes, but that doesn’t make our vote any more palatable, or any less of a betrayal.

Rights activists have condemned the Trump administration and its U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, for refusing to back the measure, with the Human Rights Campaign slamming the decision as “beyond disgraceful.”

“Ambassador Haley has failed the LGBTQ community by not standing up against the barbaric use of the death penalty to punish individuals in same-sex relationships,” said Ty Cobb, director of HRC Global in a statement.

Susan Rice, ambassador to the U.N. under Barack Obama, said “shame on US!” in reaction to the vote.

“I was proud to lead U.S. efforts at UN to protect LGBTQ people, back in the day when America stood for human rights for all,” she tweeted.

The State Department denied animus toward the LGBTQ community, and defended the vote on the grounds of “broader concerns”– i.e., the resolution’s condemnation of the death penalty. (It called for countries which have yet to abolish the death penalty to “consider” doing so.) In the past, the U.S. has abstained from voting on condemnations of capital punishment, and we could easily have joined the seven nations that abstained from this particular vote. But we didn’t.

Abstention is one thing. A “no” vote is another. The U.S. has never previously voted against such resolutions.

Despite State Department insistence that the vote did not signal a change in U.S. support for the rights of LGBTQ persons,

The U.N. vote comes a week after the Trump administration argued in court that federal anti-discrimination law does not protect gay people from being fired by their employers because of their sexuality.

Nineteen states in the U.S. and two-thirds of the countries in the world have abolished the death penalty. In retaining capital punishment, we join countries like Uganda, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other nations not exactly known for their enlightened view of human rights. We not only retain the death penalty, we use it. A lot. The U.S. executes more people than most other nations; according to Amnesty International,  of the 10 nations in the world that account for the highest number of executions, we rank seventh.

That enthusiasm for the death penalty, while incomprehensible to me, might have justified an abstention from the vote. It does not justify voting against the resolution. Claims that the vote isn’t a signal that the Trump administration is trying to roll back progress on gay rights ring hollow.

Not that an assault on yet another group despised by White Straight Conservative Christian Males should surprise us….


  1. Trump used to support LGBT rights – before he became President and so desperate for support himself. Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions likely are driving the cultural agenda and Trump is their puppet, but I have difficulty picturing him in church with conservative or other Christians.

  2. Sheila,

    “The United States was one of 13 nations, including some of the most repressive nations on Earth, to oppose a United Nations motion condemning the death penalty for those in same-sex relationships, blasphemers and adulterers.”

    Now MAYBE we are getting somewhere with finally a look at what is happening to America. We are rotting at the core. At this rate, what will be left? Answer: “Nothing but the shouting.”

  3. Marv, agreed. As I have said before on this blog, “The country is corrupt to the core, not just the government, but every institution, profession and business.”

  4. If adulterers were included in crimes for capital punishment in this country we would have the current president and many many members of Congress and the state legislatures serving time on death row.

    Unfortunately, we have pence and sessions to defend our “wonderful upstanding” prez while they condemn those who have never hurt anyone.

  5. I’m now going to consider my lack of support/vote for either presidential candidate last year as an abstention.

    Stop blaming me for Trump.

  6. As I had to point out to a friend just this week, sexuall orientation and gender identity are NOT covered under current civil rights laws, therefore it IS legal under Federal law to discriminate against gay and transgender people in employment, housing and just about any other way you like. It’s not likely the the law will change with the current Congress. Thankfully, most businesses in this country find it bad for their bottom lines to discriminate.

  7. Theresa,

    To be more specific, this is from an article on a recent show at the Metropolitan Museum entitled “The Body Politic”:

    “The exhibition title functions in two ways. Historically, “body politic” has been used to describe a community comprising disparate individuals. According to this analogy, responsibility for the overall health of the body politic is shared equally among citizens, just as the fate of ANY ONE PART has ramifications for the whole.”

    The socio/political/economic reality is that we are falling apart at a rapid rate. The DNA of the “body politic ” of America is being transformed from one that has been based on democracy to one more closely resembling that of Nazi Germany.

    As I have mentioned many times before, the U.S. is not the Germany of the 20’s and the 30’s, where the Jewish community was less than 1%. To impose a neo-Nazi system in the U.S. INSANE and can only, ultimately, lead to a CATASTROPHE, not only for ourselves but also for the rest of Planet Earth.

  8. We’re fighting the impossible. Politically, we’re fighting our own neo-Nazi DNA. Is it possible to transplant a DNA? In my opinion, that’s our only chance for survival.

    The neo-Nazi DNA has basically two threads, one might be called the KOCH THREAD the other, for the lack of a better name, the PENCE THREAD. They’re interwoven much like the double helix composing our personal DNA.

    At this point in time, any operation on the DNA of the body politic would have to entail replacing both threads.

    Does anyone have the name of a competent surgeon?

  9. For anyone interested in a very possible future, I would recommend the following DVD, The Killer Shrews. I’ve previously recommended it on this blog. The movie was made at Cielo Studios located on an island in the middle of Lake Dallas on the outskirts of Dallas, Texas USA.

    I was the General Counsel for Cielo Studios and The McLendon Corporation from 1969-72. In the movie, Gordon McLendon plays the part of the mad scientist who reconstructed the DNA. The movie is from 1959. McLendon is know for many things, one of which was being a prime suspect in the assassination of JFK.

    History repeats itself in many different ways. It can, I would suggest, even from movies. From

    Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Killer Shrews 1992 CC
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    An experiment on a remote island goes awfully awry when Professor Marlowe Cragis and his research team accidentally create a race of giant, venomous shrews. As the shrews run out of animals to eat, they begin to feast on human flesh!

    1 hour, 31 minutes

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  10. The world is watching in horror as our POTUS embarrasses us every freaking day and this vote is just another stab in the back of human rights in this country. Of course, the continuation of the mass shootings in this country is something that none of us can comprehend either. The right to bear arms and the process to get a machine gun of war is easier than getting health care because health care is only for the privileged. I’m really starting to question why I came back to the states but if I am to be a part of the resistance, I can’t do that from abroad, so here I am. I just hope that I don’t get beat up or arrested fighting this administration that needs to be run out of DC pronto. The leaders of the GOP have to find their spine because we “liberals” can’t and won’t do it. They MUST lead the charge.
    (I have outrage fatigue).

  11. There is some disagreement over the origination oh MLK’s words on the arc of moral justice. Some say it originated with Rev Theodore Parker who published a pre Civil War sermon containing the words:

    “Look at the facts of the world. You see a continual and progressive triumph of the right. I do not pretend to understand the moral universe, the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. But from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.”

    “Things refuse to be mismanaged long. Jefferson trembled when he thought of slavery and remembered that God is just. Ere long all America will tremble.”

    Reasonable people used to be confident in America’s arc but no longer are for good reason. Many of us here can claim that change coming was as obvious as the noses on our faces but was chosen anyway.

    In my opinion the damage to America as a result is permanent. Our mission in history is forever sullied.

    Any value in that fact can only be discerned as a painful lesson learned but extremists can’t learn so the value is forever lost.

  12. I again remind my fellow commentators that the mayor of South Bend who came out before his reelection as gay garnered more votes in his reelection than he did before coming out. I especially recall his coming out with his announcement that he had blue eyes, too. The GOP solution? Put to death all blue-eyed people, yesireee bob! After all, those born with certain attributes not of their own making should be next for the noose in a fascist state , after which those who are born black, red, yellow or without pigmentation should also be moved to death row, and all because such policy has been tolerated by the rest of us. Framing is everything – Lakoff was right – even saints can become enemies of the state, as in the experience of a Brazilian archbishop who famously noted that when he gave to the poor they called him a saint but that when he asked why there were poor they called him a communist. Trump and his UN mouthpiece are only interested in flexing their political muscle for his base. He cares nothing for the substance and effect of such antisocial policies for years to come as he flits between his otherworld of narcissistic haze and the world the rest of us inhabit. When do we refuse to tolerate such primeval propaganda and go to the streets to seek justice in the name of reason? When?

  13. Would I were eloquent like Sheila and many contributors to this blog. Careful reading shows some welcomed outrage but sadly does not target the real enemy of freedom to engage in ANY activity that does not exploit others.
    Who or what is the real enemy? How do we know?
    I target groups of people who band together to impose unfairly by law their combined will on others by social pressure, intimidation, penalty, shunning, and so on.
    Think the Garden of Eden, there was no such place, where God is the Greatest Shunner and Punisher, is published in ancient scripture and is embraced by Jews and Gentiles teaching and preaching the concept of One God who nurtures and/or condemns to torture and death. To learn how “God will get you” read not only the Old Testament but also the Koran in which that same God prescribes in excruciating detail how you (and He) must punish perpetrators.
    Since that beginning, humans have poured over scripture and filled libraries with countless volumes of commentary all supporting that destructive mythology.
    There are places on Earth where my rant will result in the gallows or the chopping block.
    In my little world I accuse the church organizations of Kristofascism: the multifaceted anti-science anti-education social evil.
    Before offering Sunday School, Bible Study and TV Evangelical Platitudes please suggest how we may survive the widespread attack on personal freedom.
    Start by reading Marv Kramer about the men in Hitler’s cabinet and legislature. When will Jeff Sessions and Mike Pence induce the Platinum Porker to order that we all wear swastika patches on our sleeves?

  14. To All,

    I know I have been throwing a lot out on this blog and much is upsetting. I know that. But the reason I continue along this path is that I know from tracking this movement for over 50 years, the Religious Right/Far Right can destroy but they cannot win.

    However, we need help along the lines suggested by AgingLGrl: “The leaders of the GOP have to find their spine because we “liberals” can’t and won’t do it. They MUST lead the charge.”

    They have as much to lose as any of us do. We have to present the evidence, in as strong and peaceful way that we can, that the leaders of their Movement are just as deceptive with the true facts with them as they are with us.

    The Movement that Trump is fronting has FATAL FLAWS that he and his sidekicks, Pence and Bannon, are unaware of and will come back to haunt them all.

    We must take advantage of this “golden opportunity” to DISCREDIT them before we have a major incidence that will foreclose any chance of regaining any form of democratic equilibrium.

    Can you imagine where would be if the tragedy last week was caused by a Muslim or African-American?

    There would be a good chance that we would experience the beginnings of some type of martial law, just what those idiots are looking for. In the long run, how else are they going to “keep the peace.”

  15. Marv, re your comment “Can you imagine where would be if the tragedy last week was caused by a Muslim or African-American?”

    There would be more wide spread anger than we have ever before seen. People would be demanding that all african americans and muslims be removed from our country or put to death. Innocent people of color would be targeted in public and punished for a crime they didnmt commit.

  16. I feel honored that Marv agrees with me and shares my opinion that if we (liberals) try to impeach the POTUS, it will be considered “fake news” rather than collusion or anything else that is illegal that this administration is doing. If the GOP finally gets a spine and stands up for their party and gets that Moron out of there, I might respect them again. Right now, it’s like circular logic going on and it’s making me dizzy. Must be the outrage fatigue. Thank Marv.

  17. Gerald,

    “Marv has got it right…..”

    Gerald, it seems to me, it might be better said, that most of US have now got it right. From my perspective, this is an ongoing group process conducted in Professor Kennedy’s classroom by her students.

    “You might ask why we chose to focus exclusively on Great Groups when the majority of the institutions in which we work, teach, and otherwise participate are anything but. The reason is our conviction that excellence is a better teacher than mediocrity. The lessons of the ordinary are everywhere. Truly profound and original insights are to be found only in studying the exemplary. We must turn to Great Groups if we hope to begin to understand how that rarest of
    precious resources–genius–can be successfully combined with great effort to achieve results
    that enhance all our lives.”

    “None of us are as smart as all of us.”
    ~ Warren Bennis, author of “Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration (Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., Reading, MA, 1997) p. 8.

  18. Gerald,

    “Marv has got it right and deserves our ongoing attention.”

    I will say this, its taken over two years on this blog for me to have gained your trust. And on the premise that I have “got it right,” you might want to consider this: The main reason I’ve “got it right” is that I don’t trust the SPLC [Southern Poverty Law Center] as many of you do to your own destruction.

    In my opinion, the biggest problem we have in this country, with all due respect to The New York Times, is to quote AgingLgrl, “The leaders of the GOP have to find their spine because we “liberals” can’t and won’t do it…..”

    The reason for this lies within the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Like sheep to slaughter,” we continue to trust them and their LIMITED Intelligence Reports.

    I apologize for upsetting some of you. But nothing will change until the SPLC is challenged despite their near BILLION DOLLAR WAR CHEST. I’m 100% sure of that.

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