Hillary, Obama unite on LGBT rights and become campaign fodder in the process
The world united against gender, racial and religious discrimination -- well, for the most part. But now, it's time to overcome another hurdle on inequality affecting millions of LGBT people. And if it's going to have any chance to succeed, removing this level of discrimination is going to take a global effort.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Geneva last week to champion LGBT rights -- even at the risk of angering Arab and African diplomats in the audience who believe homosexuality should remain a capital crime.
"It should never be a crime to be gay," Clinton said.
Yet, homosexuality is not just discriminated against in many parts of the world, but it's actually a crime in nearly 80 countries with penalties ranging from time in prison to death. Yes, believe it or not, being gay in some parts of the world is treated the same as if they were a murderer.
But Clinton and President Obama want to make it clear that it's time for this shameful treatment of an entire group of people to end. While it might be well-received by the global LGBT community, the fact is, the United States is almost hypocritical in its stance. While homosexuality itself is not an enforceable crime in this country anymore, there is still rampant and widespread discrimination.
Civil unions are starting to pick up in different places around the country, but finding a place to get married as a same-sex couple is still difficult in the United States. And even if you did find a place, good luck forcing another state to recognize it. Hillary's husband, President Bill Clinton, outlawed gay marriage at the federal level in the 1990s.
However, strides are being made. After years of struggle, LGBT discrimination in the U.S. military finally ended this year, and overall public acceptance of equality has grown in recent years. Yet, there are still many -- including a few with loud voices and eyeing the White House -- who would like to stop it dead in its tracks.
Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry is one of those people. He released a video message last week that linked Christianity with homophobia, directly attacking allowing LGBT soldiers who openly serve in the military.
As of this past weekend, Perry's video has earned more than 4.7 million views. It might be easy for some to claim that's a lot of support for Perry's message. But you have to look at those numbers a little more closely ... According to YouTube's own public statistics, 18,600 people said they liked the video. Yet another 610,000 said they didn't like it at all.
Perry isn't alone. Other Republican presidential hopefuls joined the attack on Obama's global equality policy. I'm sure this will be hard to believe, but Rick Santorum agreed.
Clinton has a tough road ahead of her to push this policy. Not just here, but abroad. But she's going to push it anyway.
"Leadership, by definition, means being out in front of your people when it is called for," she said. "It means standing up for the dignity of all citizens and persuading your people to do the same."