J.J. Reno, "Exporting Gay Rights" (First Things, February 2012), writes: "Guaranteeing sexual liberation—unrestricted abortion, sex education, easily accessible and subsidized contraception, and gay rights—has become one of the major commitments of the Democratic party, and it is natural for a political party to shape policies in accord with its core commitments." Now the Obama administration is on a crusade to add gay rights to the exercise of America's "soft power," i.e., "the State Department will use [foreign] aid recipients' treatment of homosexuals to evaluate their suitablility for aid, and will be setting aside $3 million to fund NGOs that fight for gay rights."
When previous presidents, like Jimmy Carter made human rights an explicit priority in foreign policy, they appealed to moral principles that the overwhelming majority of Americans, at least, have endorsed for a long time. This is hardly the case with gay rights. Unlike the main elements of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, sexual liberation, especially homosexual liberation, "has no roots in the traditional cultures and religious traditions that shape the lives of the vast majority of people in the world."
Reno bases his article on a telling speech made recently by Hillary Clinton to the United Nations Human Rights Council in which the Secretary of State explicitly included homosexual rights among "human rights," drawing attention to the brutal treatment of homosexual people around the world. The conflation of rights based on a chosen life-style with those rooted in human ontology is clear.
The response of the international community to this attempt to make sexual and homosexual rights part of the "global consensus" that Western revisionists view as the inevitable direction of history has not been unmitigated gratitude. Last October, as Reno points out, "British Prime Minister David Cameron gave a speech not unlike Hillary Clinton's, suggesting that foreign aid would be cut to countries that did not recognize gay rights." The response of the Nigerians was to "criminalize same-sex marriage and homosexual cohabitation."
Those promoting the exportation of gay rights in th West are not marginalized people. On the contrary, they are part of the liberal elite who imagine themselves the enlightened governors of the morally benighted, says Reno. "The White House is turning one of the most divisive issues in our current domestic battle over culture into a principle guiding the American effort to influence and shape culture throughout the world."
As long as partisans of "traditional family values" allow the self-styled liberal elite to define the terms of the debate by identifying gay rights (based on a chosen life style) with human rights (based on non-chosen features of human nature, like color, gender, and age), they will leave exposed tradition's vulnerable flank. To the extent that homosexual disposition is an unchosen characteristic of one's nature, the Church has never condemned it, even while recognizing it as "disordered." To the extent that those with homosexual dispositions act on their inclinations, choosing an active gay or lesbian lifestyle, the Church has always judged this a matter of culpable vice, just as it has judged immoral those acts stemming from natural inclinations that lead to recreational sex, fornication, adultery and other forms of lechery. The momentum in the West is now quite clearly in the camp of those who see traditional morality as a repressive violation of "human rights." Cannibalism in the privacy of one's own home, anyone?