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First Envoy for LGBT Rights Marks Shift In US Foreign Policy



Robert R. Reilly - published on 02/28/15

Representative tasked with pressuring foreign countries to change laws on sodomy, same-sex marriage

On Monday, February 23, Secretary of State John Kerry proclaimed, “I could not be more proud to announce Randy Berry as the first-ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons.” Come again? I have served in the US State Department and do not recall such a position being listed in its table of organization. Where did the creation of this position come from?

It turns out that Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., had introduced legislation in the last Congress to create such a position, but the bill died. The bill was reintroduced in the new Congress, with zero chances of passage. As we know, the Obama administration is not deterred by Congress’ failure to act or outright opposition, so it is simply created the position by executive fiat. This has the added advantage of not requiring Congressional confirmation of the openly-gay Mr. Berry in the new position. It simply becomes an executive branch appointment.

But what exactly is Mr. Berry supposed to do “for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons” in foreign countries? Well, it turns out, according to Secretary Kerry that, “Too often, in too many countries, LGBT persons are threatened, jailed, and prosecuted because of who they are or who they love.”

Arrested because of “who they are or who they love”? I put aside Mr. Kerry’s ungrammatical expression, which should have read, “whom they love,” – not “who they love,” which has two subjects without an object. If you can be arrested for who you are, you obviously do not live in a country with the rule of law, based upon the principle of equality. Rather, such discrimination would be based upon some race theory of history, as was the case in Nazism, or a class theory of history, as was the case with Communism. Those were regimes where you could be arrested if you were not of the Aryan race, or if you did not belong to the proletariat class. Americans can be proud that its diplomats did everything they could against such injustice.

Being arrested for whom you love seems a bit trickier because it would seem unavoidably to deal with how the love is expressed and in what relationship. Does it forbid love between uncles and nieces, or between choir directors and choirboys, or between brothers and sisters, or husbands and wives? Of course not. That would be absurd. What this really points to pertains to another question entirely: Is there a particular expression of love appropriate to each of these relationships that might not be appropriate to the others? This snaps things back into focus as clearly a brother and sister should not express their love for each other as their parents do.

It is hard to know what to make of the laws Secretary Kerry alludes to without reading them. In any case, apparently, there are some 76 countries with such laws that it will be Mr. Berry’s job to work against. The State Department said Berry would push to end laws in dozens of countries around the world that criminalize same-sex relationships. That narrows it down. “Who you love,” then, means only the relationship between two men or two women – two subjects without an object, which neatly encapsulates the problem with this kind of “love.”

Even narrowing it down by excluding sisters and brothers and the other possibilities, this certainly remains a big job; so I decided to take a look at some of the laws that purportedly persecute people because of who they are or whom they love. Here is a sample of the more than 40 I looked at. I list the country and then the wording from the relevant legislation and what it specifically forbids.

Uzbekistan: “voluntary sexual intercourse between two male individuals”; Yemen: “Homosexuality between men is defined as penetration into the anus”;
Sudan: “Any man who inserts his penis or its equivalent into a woman’s or a man’s anus or permitted another man to insert his penis or its equivalent in his anus is said to have committed Sodomy”; Brunei: “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman, or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years…”; Myanmar: “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animals shall be punished…”; Mauritius: “Any person who is guilty of the crime of sodomy or bestiality shall be liable to penal servitude for a term not exceeding 5 years.”; Kuwait: “Consensual intercourse between men of full age (from the age of 21) shall be punishable with a term of imprisonment of up to seven years.”; Kenya: “Any male person who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with another male person, or procures another male person to commit any act of gross indecency with him, or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any male person with himself or with another male person, whether in public or private, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for five years.”

While some of these penalties seem no doubt severe, not one of the laws I looked at punishes anyone because of who they are, but only because of what they do. A homosexual cannot be arrested because he is a homosexual, but only if he sodomizes someone – just as an alcoholic cannot be arrested for being an alcoholic, but only if he is drunk and disorderly in public, or is driving drunk. In other words, in this respect, these laws reflect the rule of law, not the kind of tyrannies embodied in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. The issue of whom they love is also irrelevant to these laws, but only how they love. It is a matter of whether the expression of love is appropriate to the nature of the relationship. These laws judge sodomy as inappropriate to any relationship. The principal issue here, then, is the act of sodomy itself, and whether or why the United States should be supporting it in its foreign policy.

Secretary Kerry is very firm that it should, because:

"Defending and promoting the human rights of LGBT persons is at the core of our commitment to advancing human rights globally — the heart and conscience of our diplomacy. That’s why we’re working to overturn laws that criminalize consensual same-sex conduct in countries around the world."

This is very striking language – that the promotion of the moral normativity of sodomy stands at “the heart and 
conscience of our diplomacy. (my emphasis)”

In other words, it is not only wrong to criminalize sodomy, but sodomy must be morally right.

When did the American people decide that sodomy is up there with the inalienable rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence or in the Bill of Rights? For a little historical perspective, we should recall, as related in the Bowers v. Hardwick (1986) case:

"Sodomy was a criminal offense at common law and was forbidden by the laws of the original 13 States when they ratified the Bill of Rights. In 1868, when the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, all but 5 of the 37 States in the Union had criminal sodomy laws. In fact, until 1961, all 50 states outlawed sodomy, and today, 24 states and the District of Columbia continue to provide criminal penalties for sodomy performed in private in between consenting adults."

Why did these laws exist for so long?  Because our inalienable rights rest firmly upon “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” and sodomy is clearly contrary to those Laws, as it violates the very ends of man’s sexual powers, which are unitive and procreative. Sodomy is an act unfit for either of those ends. Therefore, one cannot claim a natural right to do something that is unnatural. Or as Abraham Lincoln said, one "cannot logically say that anybody has a right to do wrong.”

But that, of course, is exactly what the rationalization for homosexual behaviour accomplishes, as I explain in Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything. It transforms wrong into right. For that rationalization to hold, however, everyone must share in it. The rationalization of sodomy requires its universalization. Everyone must agree that the unreal is the real. To support itself, unreality must advance, or be advanced upon. Assertions of unreality are always aggressive – not only because they are a negation of something – but because, like Napoleon, they must conquer to survive. We are in the phase of its domestic enforcement now, and Secretary Kerry is preparing for its global enforcement in our foreign-policy, as proudly announced by the LGBT flags flying on the masts of our embassies overseas last June, just under the American flag. The State Department has become the instrument for the global universalization of the rationalization for sodomy.

The problem with this should be self-evident. The promotion of “gay” rights must come at the expense of the promotion of human rights because the two are immiscible. One is founded on the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” and the other on moral relativism, which eviscerates the very idea of natural rights and the natural law on which they are based. If you have one, you cannot have the other. You have your rights by virtue of being a human being, and not by anything else – not ethnicity, not religion, not race, not tribe, not sexual orientation.

Were we to construct such a thing as “gay” rights, we would be eviscerating the foundations of human rights, which have to be universal by definition in order to exist. If one has rights as a “gay” person, but then goes straight, like New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife did, what happens to one’s “gay” rights then? One does not attain or lose rights in this way. They are inalienable because one possesses them by virtue of one’s human nature – not due to any other specificity. Either they exist at that level, or they do not exist at all. If someone, like Kerry, tries to appropriate human rights for something that applies to less than everyone, then you may be sure that they are undermining the very notion of human rights. This is the profound damage that the Obama administration and Secretary Kerry are doing to human rights in order to foist the rationalization for sodomy on everyone.

Robert R. Reilly is the author of Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything, published by Ignatius Press. This article was originally published in

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