On Human Rights

by Shirley Gallegos

The Declaration of Independence states every human has “unalienable rights” in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. Respect for human rights is one of the tenets of the Democratic Party. The United States has historically been at the vanguard of promoting human rights around the world. 

That may be changing under Trump administration, which filed a notice of intent in the Federal Register on May 30 to establish under its State Department a “Commission on Unalienable Rights” to promote “fresh thinking about human rights.” This should give all of us cause for concern.  Here’s an article you may want to explore which documents this worrisome new direction:

Charter Hides Anti-rights agenda

The fear is that in emphasizing “natural law and natural rights” in the filing, the intent is actually to move toward a religious rights focus and away from protections the right may deem “unnatural,” such as homosexuality, transgender rights, reproductive choice and sexual equality (see A New Trump Battleground: Human Rights, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/17/opinion/editorials/trump-human-rights-natural-law.html)

Despite the Declaration of Independence, human rights have been hard-fought in the United States. From eliminating slavery to winning LGBTQ rights, from the continuing  fight against racism to working on an Equal Rights Amendment for women, Americans have had to take to the streets and make our voices heard to get and keep those rights. Apparently, we need to continue to keep our voices loud and strong on this issue. 

On a positive note, this month we had Gay Pride parades and celebrations of the Stonewall riot that opened Americans’ eyes to the discrimination of these fellow humans–a triggering event that over subsequent decades and continued work resulted in more equality for the Gay community. Also, this month we celebrated Juneteenth (June 19), the celebration of when Black Americans in Texas found out about the Emancipation Proclamation that abolished slavery in the U.S.  Yes, we need to celebrate the wins.

On the flip side, we have President Trump calling for walls and ICE abusing refugees and ripping children away from their parents.  If we have learned anything from history, I hope it’s that the policy of mistreating humans only breeds more misery in the overall human community. Community is about building each other up, not tearing each other down. Let’s work on that.