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Joe Biden Just Said Something On Gay Rights That We’ve Been Waiting For

Joe Biden Just Said Something On Gay Rights That We’ve Been Waiting For

In the Obama administration, Vice President Joe Biden has made a name for himself by being an outspoken LGBT ally. He was ahead of the game (and President) on marriage equality, and called LGBT rights the equality fight of our time. This week he spoke out again, and what he said was another game-changer.

Biden, in a speech made to a gathering of international rights advocates at the Naval Observatory’s vice presidential mansion on Tuesday, spelled out how the United States is now pushing to advocate for LGBT rights around the globe. He also said in startlingly clear terms that the United States will no longer make compromises to culture or tradition when it talks about these important human rights issues.

“I don’t care what your culture is,” Biden is quoted as saying. “Inhumanity is inhumanity is inhumanity. Prejudice is prejudice is prejudice.” He also went on to warn that for states that do not move toward greater LGBT rights, “there is a price to pay for being inhumane.”

The Obama administration has made absolutely no secret of its desire that U.S. embassies and officials posted abroad help advance LGBT rights. Indeed, this can be traced back to President Obama’s 2011 memorandum entitled the “International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons,” in which the President made a raft of promises including to combat the criminalization of LGBTs abroad.

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton also made a number of strong LGBT rights statements during her tenure, perhaps most notably her speech to the UN in 2011 in which she said “And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights. It is violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave.”

However, rarely before has the administration’s position been put as starkly as Biden put it this week. In fact, few if any other governments around the world have dared to be so uncompromising when it comes to the topic of LGBT rights and how it squares against views of culture and tradition. Fortunately, we know that this is more than just rousing speechifying, though.

For instance, last week Secretary of State John Kerry announced new sanctions to certain aid programs Uganda relies on, citing the country’s anti-homosexuality law which now, among other things, makes it a crime to even know a homosexual and not report them. Ugandan officials replied with their usual bluster that they would not be intimidated but at the same time acknowledged that this is a blow to the country’s food and financial security.

Taken together, Biden’s statements and the administration’s actions represent a strong declaration of LGBT advocacy and signals to the 80 or so countries that currently criminalize homosexuality, like Brunei and Nigeria, or are persecuting LGBTs via backdoor criminalization, like Russia, that the United States will not allow them to hide behind the lie that discrimination against LGBTs is simply something that tradition demands.

This also coincides with the Obama administration publishing a fact sheet on the many ways in which it is committed to helping LGBTs living in foreign countries, including coordinating with local and regional foreign human rights groups to provide on-the-ground assistance, promoting health outreach to at-risk groups like LGBTs, and redoubling efforts to make sure that LGBT asylum and refugee claims are handled in a timely and sympathetic manner.

Just as Biden’s speech is important on the international front, it is also a signal to state administrations and lawmakers within the United States that “traditional values” can’t be used as a means to persecute LGBT people. When there are number of special interest groups pushing legislation, for instance, for the right to refuse to serve LGBT people in the service and healthcare sectors, for the right to refuse recognition to same-sex civil marriages, and the right to disregard nondiscrimination legislation, this kind of strong statement cannot be ignored — and the Right isn’t ignoring it either.

Various religious and religious far-right sites are vociferously protesting what they see as Biden having just attacked Christianity. Of course this isn’t what happened. Biden is simply saying that tradition, religious or otherwise, cannot be a justification for discrimination. Yet, the Right knows that Biden’s words signal even more starkly that the administration will not back down on its LGBT rights advocacy at home or abroad. As such, expect to hear Biden’s words quoted for a long time yet.

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Photo credit: Benson Kua.

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80 comments

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2:31PM PDT on Jul 6, 2014

Hooray! Stand together in the fight for gay rights!

6:14AM PDT on Jul 6, 2014

Noted

6:53PM PDT on Jul 5, 2014

I am grateful to Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Hillary for their positions on this issue!

5:01PM PDT on Jul 5, 2014

EXCELLENT!!! -AND, ABSOLUTELY TRUE!!! -Bev

6:39PM PDT on Jul 4, 2014

Jesus spent many nights in the desert teaching a man the ways of men............he was bi, i reckon~ and married to the Mag Dalen (no dounbt an eastern princess well versed in the love/sex rites)...................... fancy taking the bible litterally talk about regressive and dumb~do you stone women who have short hair as the bible states or sacrifice bulls/lambs on the alter??? wake up!

1:05PM PDT on Jul 4, 2014

How about THIS one?

"“I don’t care what your culture is,” Biden is quoted as saying. “GENITAL MUTILATION is inhumanity is inhumanity. Prejudice is prejudice is prejudice.” He also went on to warn that for states that do not move toward greater rights FOR WOMEN, “there is a price to pay for being inhumane.”

Think it'll happen?

12:27PM PDT on Jul 4, 2014

Darryll, you are just WRONG. I am sorry that your unamed "ancienct greek to english dictionary" is in error.

However, that does not change the fact that "pais" is well documented and recognized by all experts in ancient Greek and all the original sources as having the meaning of "young male lover to an older man."

We are not the one "twisting the facts," YOU ARE, to fit your anti-gay agenda. Sorry buddy, but all the homophobia in the world does not change historical facts.

7:42AM PDT on Jul 4, 2014

BMutiny-i can't help it if you and Kevin and others want to twist the bible to meet your twisted lives, it's still the truth and you wont ever stop it, people like you have tried for over 2000 years and still haven't managed to get rid of it

Original Message:
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Hello,

BMutiny left a comment on the following article:
Joe Biden Just Said Something On Gay Rights That We've Been Waiting For
I can absolutely second what Kevin is saying. I have just read parts of a book, on-line, about "Women in Ancient Greece". I can look up the title and author, if necessary. This book goes extensively {in the parts I read}, into what we can know or reconstruct about the Sex Lives of Greek Women - AND men! The book, the parts I read, goes into the subject of Homosexuality in Women AND in men. [Since of course, men's sexuality has an effect on their female contemporaries and family members!] The book gives translations of several Greek terms; and, yes, "pais" WAS a younger, passive-in-the-sex-act male lover. [Greek vase paintings show HOW the sexual act was managed - interestingly, it was not necessarily anal sex! But we don't need to go there...] So, this book which is an extensive discussion of Greek society, not just a "dictionary" of words alone, gives the COMMONLY USED WORD in Greek original documents that was as common and generally-used a word as the words for "dowry" or "wife" or "husband" in Greek - words which are also given in Greek in this text, and properly t

3:10PM PDT on Jul 3, 2014

continued,

One reason the pais was discussed so much in this book about Greek WOMEN, was, that the role of the pais, social and sexual - and that means IN THE SEXUAL ACT, the book, like the Ancient Greeks themselves, is quite frank about that! -
the reason there's an extensive discussion of the role of the [male] pais, is, because the book which mainly focused on Women's Lives,
found it important to compare and CONTRAST the social and sexual role of the pais - the younger male lover of an older man - with a man's relations with a wife, a concubine, or a prostitute.
[Basically, the "older man" was in the dominant position in all these relationships...]

Anyway, this book which quotes both original Greek texts, and other respectable Scholars of Greek society from various Universities for example, uses the word "Pais" translated as "younger male lover" OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

5:54AM PDT on Jul 3, 2014

I can absolutely second what Kevin is saying.
I have just read parts of a book, on-line, about "Women in Ancient Greece".
I can look up the title and author, if necessary.
This book goes extensively {in the parts I read}, into what we can know or reconstruct about the Sex Lives of Greek Women - AND men!
The book, the parts I read, goes into the subject of Homosexuality in Women AND in men. [Since of course, men's sexuality has an effect on their female contemporaries and family members!]
The book gives translations of several Greek terms; and, yes, "pais" WAS a younger, passive-in-the-sex-act male lover. [Greek vase paintings show HOW the sexual act was managed - interestingly, it was not necessarily anal sex! But we don't need to go there...]
So, this book which is an extensive discussion of Greek society, not just a "dictionary" of words alone, gives the COMMONLY USED WORD in Greek original documents that was as common and generally-used a word as the words for "dowry" or "wife" or "husband" in Greek - words which are also given in Greek in this text, and properly translated.
It goes into a lot of detail about the ROLE of the pais, social and sexual. There are pictures {but I didn't download them}.
Can't help it if Bible-thumpers are IGNORANT OF LANGUAGE AND ALL RELEVANT SCHOLARSHIP.....

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