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Obama Bests Bush on International LGBT Rights

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March 19, 2009

Yesterday, the Obama administration reversed years of anti-LGBT Bush administration policy by endorsing a U.N. statement calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality worldwide. Matt Coles, director of the ACLU’s LGBT Project, issued the following statement in response.

It is terrific that the Obama administration is joining the United Nations’ resolution calling for an end to laws that make physical intimacy between same-sex couples a crime, and we are hopeful the U.S. will commit to taking a leadership role in ending discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender people around the world. Many of these laws are no technicality. They are used to put people in prison and sometimes result in people being executed.

That the Bush administration refused to endorse the resolution is pretty unbelievable considering the U.S. Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional to criminalize physical intimacy between consenting adults back in 2003.

We welcome the decision to join this important declaration, and we urge the United States to match its action on human rights abroad with bold commitment to respect and promote human rights at home. We can begin putting an end to discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people by, as the president has proposed, banning job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and by repealing the section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that denies federal protections to those same-sex couples who have legally married.