Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Human Rights

What are “Human Rights?”

That question has been debated and debated and I don’t think there has ever been a definitive answer. The UN Declaration of Human Rights (Which the US signed) says in Article 1
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
In 2006 the Yogyakarta Principles addressed freedom from arbitrary detention, violence and torture, the right to privacy, and access to the justice system. The Principles also covered the right to employment, accommodation, social security, education and healthcare. They also listed the freedom to express one’s identity and one’s sexuality, and the right to one’s culture without government interference.

And before the Yogyakarta Principles were the International Bill of Gender Rights (IBGR). In 1995, a group of lawyers headed by Phyllis Frye, who would later become the first transgender judge in Texas, held the “International Conference on Transgender Law and Employment Policy” in Houston Texas where for the first time a list of the following basic rights was enumerated: the right to define your gender identity, the right to free expression of gender identity, the right to secure and retain employment and to receive just compensation, along with seven other human rights. These were radical ideas and it was not until after the turn of the century that the rest of the world started to realize the need for these basic human rights for the trans-community.

Way before any of these attempts to define Human Rights our Constitution listed some of them in the “Bill of Rights” and one of these is the First Amendment which says in part “Congress shall make no law respecting … the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” This includes the rights to form a political party, but what happens when that party tramples a person’s human rights?

Around the country we have seen a rash of legislation aimed at making certain group of people second class citizens that do not enjoy the rights that other citizens have.
Loretta Lynch Has An Agenda — And The Clock Is Ticking
The position of the Department of Justice, Attorney General Loretta Lynch says, “should always be toward inclusion and equality.” From Black Lives Matter to transgender protections to efforts at improving the lives of people released from prison, Lynch tells BuzzFeed News how she is working to give effect to that mission.
BuzzFeed
By Chris Geidner
May 2, 2016
Attorney General Loretta Lynch is already more than halfway through her expected time as the head of the Justice Department.

She’s only been there a year. She has a limited period of time to make her mark on the office — in a period dominated by crises, from attacks from Charleston to San Bernardino to police protests from Chicago to Baltimore.

Quietly, beneath that series of events, she has an overarching mission: When it comes to the Department of Justice, she said in a wide-ranging interview with BuzzFeed News, “the position — on a whole host of issues — should always be toward inclusion and equality.”

From police accountability to the national re-examination of criminal justice priorities to LGBT anti-discrimination efforts to Black Lives Matter protests, Lynch kept returning to an aim of advancing inclusion and equality in describing her efforts at the helm of the Justice Department.
[…]
She said she believes that the among the roles of the Justice Department is to protect the vulnerable: the elderly, children, and human-trafficking victims. “Our transgender family members and friends are also incredibly vulnerable to discrimination, in terms of the laws that we see, but also to abuse,” she said.
It is the laws that are being proposed and in some cases passed that are the issue. The U.S. Constitution Fourteenth Amendment says in part,
No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
It is the “equal protection” these so called religious freedom laws are not equal they oppress one group of people and grant special rights to another to ignore the law.

The article goes on to say,
Asked if that would include the Justice Department similarly adopting the view of the EEOC that sexual orientation-based discrimination is a type of sex discrimination barred under existing civil rights laws, Lynch hedged on the issue. “We’re looking at that issue, also, and we’ll definitely come to a conclusion soon as to what position to take,” she said. “But I think that overall, the position — on a whole host of issues — should always be toward inclusion and equality.”
Back in 1989 the Supreme Court issued a ruling in the Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins case that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that sexual stereotyping is a form of sex discrimination and that has been the basis for the EEOC, DoEd, and all the other federal agencies ruling that gender identity is sex discrimination. After all what could be more sexual stereotyping than to discriminate against trans people, we definitely do follow the stereotype of a “normal” male or female.

Or as one judge elegantly phrased it… if a person is being discriminated against because they changed their religion, it is still religious discrimination. The same is true if a person changes their gender, it is sex discrimination.

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