REVERSING BUSH DECISION, U.S. TO SIGN U.N. GAY RIGHTS DECLARATION

COMMENTARY ARCHIVES, 19 Mar 2009

Alex Koppelman

The Obama administration has decided to sign on to a United Nations declaration that calls for countries around the world to decriminalize homosexuality, the Associated Press reports. Last year, under then-President Bush, the U.S. became the only Western government that refused to endorse the document.

Though the declaration is non-binding, American negotiators had raised legal objections to it and said they needed to conduct a further review. At the time, the AP said that "U.S. officials expressed concern in private talks that some parts of the declaration might be problematic in committing the federal government on matters that fall under state jurisdiction. In numerous states, landlords and private employers are allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation; on the federal level, gays are not allowed to serve openly in the military."

The decision will make the U.S. the 67th country to sign on to the declaration. More than 50 countries, including the Vatican and members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, oppose it.

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