“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.” ~ Charles Dickens
The past decades have been very significant for the LGBTQ community and the movement for the recognition and enforcement of their human rights. And recently, the train has being moving even faster and with even greater intensity and strength. Many local events are having a greater impact in the communities and are therefore contributing to a stronger national and a global awareness of the need for a new rule of law paradigm in which can be recognized that “sexuality is a natural and precious aspect of life, an essential and fundamental part of our humanity. For people to attain the highest standard of health they must first be empowered to exercise choice in their sexual and reproductive lives; they must feel confident and safe in expressing their own sexual identity.” We must recapitulate all what have been accomplished in order to have a clearer idea of where we want to go. Let’s begin;
In 1965 the US Supreme Court, in Griswold v. Connecticut, ruled that the Constitution protected a right to privacy and in 1967, in Loving v. Virginia, became even more inclusive and humanitarian and decided that the ban on interracial marriages was unconstitutional. In that same direction the Supreme Court in 1973, in Roe v. Wade, sought to protect the reproductive rights of women to choose end a pregnancy should they deemed it inappropriate producing a clearest doctrinal foundation for establishing the evolution of the doctrine of privacy in terms of a doctrine that establishes the idea of protected autonomous choices over matters of fundamental human rights freedom giving particular prominence to the liberty concept in the fourteenth amendment.
In 2003, and more directly related to the LGBTQ community, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, ruled that the state may not “deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry.” The Court found that the denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples violated provisions of the state’s constitution that guaranteed individual liberty and equality and that it was therefore not rationally related to a legitimate state interest which were claimed to be (1) to provide a favorable setting for procreation; (2) to ensure a two-parent family with one parent of each sex for child rearing; and (3) to preserve state and private financial resources. In this case the Court maintained that procreation is not a necessary component of civil marriage, that forbidding same-sex marriage would not increase the volume of heterosexual marriages in which children were born and nurtured and that a ban on same-sex marriage is not justified by the alleged financial independence of same-sex couples. In that same year, in Lawrence v. Texas the majority of the Supreme Court held that intimate consensual sexual conduct was part of the liberty protected by substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment.
In November 2006, a group of activist representatives from various non-governmental organizations held a conference in Yogyakarta, Indonesia to present the Yogyakarta Principles, an aspirational, radical social policy vision to be binding as an International norm. The Principles were adopted as an a statement concerning the application of a set of principles of International Human Rights Law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity. The Principles are visions and promise of a different future in where all people born free and equal in dignity and rights with the ability to fulfill those precious birthrights. On Wednesday August 4th , 2010, the chief judge of the Federal District Court of the Northern District of California at the time, Vaughn R. Walker, ruled in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, that Proposition 8, which was passed in 2008 with 52 percent of the vote, was unconstitutional because it violated the equal protection rights of gay and lesbian couples seeking to marry. Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker stated; “The right to marry has been historically and remains the right to choose a spouse and, with mutual consent, join together and form a household. Race and gender restrictions shaped marriage during eras of race and gender inequality, but such restrictions were never part of the historical core of the institution of marriage. Today, gender is not relevant to the state in determining spouses’ obligations to each other and to their dependents. Relative gender composition aside, same-sex couples are situated identically to opposite-sex couples in terms of their ability to perform the rights and obligations of marriage … Gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage; marriage under law is a union of equals.”
On June 17, 2011, the United Nations body approved a resolution affirming, for the first time in history, the rights of LGBT people. The Resolution was submitted by South Africa requesting a study on discrimination and sexual orientation (A/HRC/17/L.9/Rev.1) and it passed, 23 to 19 with 3 abstentions, in the Human Rights Council. The resolution calls on the office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to draw up the first U.N. report on challenges faced by gay people worldwide. Thanks to the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision of July 15, 2011 ordering military to temporarily continue its DOAT policy for openly gay service members but baring the federal government from investigating, penalizing or discharging anyone pursuant to such policy, on July 16, 2011 a group of United States Armed Services members and veterans marched as an organized group in a San Diego Gay Pride Parade for the first time in the 37th years of such celebration. On July 25, 2011 the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) granted ILGA consultative status that will entitle ILGA to share information with the UN about international LGBT rights and participate in meetings such as those held by the Human Rights Council.
In October 22, 2011 the Pride Community Center of North Florida celebrated its 2011 Gainesville Pride Parade and Festival. In September 21, 2011 President Obama gave a significant speech addressing the United Nations on the issue of Palestinian’s right to statehood, sovereignty and self-determination and included gays in his recipe for human progress stating that “no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere. And no country can realize its potential if half its population cannot reach theirs.” In December 6, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a speech before the Human Rights Council commemorating the Human Rights Day to be celebrated on December 10th since 1948. Stating that “progress comes from changes in laws… progress comes from being willing to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes”, she also stated that “it is violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave. It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished. It is a violation of human rights when lesbian or transgendered women are subjected to so-called corrective rape, or forcibly subjected to hormone treatments, or when people are murdered after public calls for violence toward gays, or when they are forced to flee their nations and seek asylum in other lands to save their lives. And it is a violation of human rights when life-saving care is withheld from people because they are gay, or equal access to justice is denied to people because they are gay, or public spaces are out of bounds to people because they are gay. No matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we are, we are all equally entitled to our human rights and dignity.”
As Charles Dickens stated, there is no better time than Christmas to open up one’s heart and celebrate, not only with the people and for the people we love, but also for the existence of the entire humanity, especially those leaders who fight every day for the recognition and enforcement of more and stronger human rights. In that same way, there is no better time than Christmas for reexamining one’s life, values, and accomplishments and to have the choice, or the initiative, to begin, or continue, a path that better fits our dreams and takes us closer to our goals. In life there is no better recipe for success than to set for oneself, not one huge long-term goal but, a lot of short-term goals that would eventually take us to whatever our main goal might be. It is true that Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year,” but we must make our best to find in every day a reason to keep the Christmas spirit in our hearts and our lives during the entire year. Every new day is a gift from above and therefore a reason to celebrate.
“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” ~ Charles Dickens