Big Wins for the LGBTQ Community
The LGBTQ community had more than just the annual Pride events to celebrate this June. The United Nations Human Rights Council made the first UN resolution ever to focus on human rights violations based on sexual orientation, and same-sex marriage was legalized in New York.
On June 17, the ground-breaking resolution was passed with a narrow majority of 23 to 19 with three abstentions. It expressed “grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.” It also established a formal UN process to document human rights abuses against gays and lesbians, including discriminatory laws and acts of violence.
The debate on the resolution saw support from all regions of the world, with states from Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America expressing their support. But there was also strong opposition from many governments. Nigeria claimed the resolution went against the wishes of most Africans. Mauritania called the resolution “an attempt to replace the natural rights of a human being with an unnatural right.” George Broadhead, Secretary of the Pink Triangle Trust (a UK gay Humanist charity), said: “This marks a major step forward in the worldwide campaign for LGBT rights. Congratulations are due to South Africa for proposing it and the twenty-three nations who voted for it.”
New York became the largest state to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry late on Friday night, June 24th. The marriage bill, which was not easily passed, was approved 33 to 29 in the Senate. A provision was added to the bill by Republican senators to provide more expansive protections for religious organizations. Anne Klaeysen, a Leader of the New York Society, made it clear that Ethical Culture does not need such protection in her Letter to The New York Times
To the Editor:
Re “Exemptions Were Key to Vote on Gay Marriage”
The Leaders of the Societies for Ethical Culture applaud the New York Legislature for approving, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for signing, the law allowing all New Yorkers to marry whom they choose. While we are included in the list of those exempted from performing same-sex marriages, such “protection” is neither needed nor wanted.
Ethical Culture’s Leaders have long solemnized unions between loving and committed same-sex couples and now rejoice in the success of our hard-fought battle to make such unions legal.
New York, June 26, 2011
Tom Raffaele, President of the Queens Society, was also in The New York Times
for supporting the legalization of same-sex marriage (see full article here
). He is one of several dozen New York State Supreme Court judges ready to open court on Sunday, July 24th to offer wedding services to gay couples on the first day.