The Advocate, the nation’s most influential homosexual magazine, has published a most interesting article at its Web site. Finding Inspiration for Gay Rights by Julie Dorf presents the basic arguments promoted by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (a non-governmental agency), which she founded in 1990.
Her article points directly to the fact that the gay rights movement has used the international context to its advantage. Beyond this, she ties this context directly to recent court decisions. Note these sections carefully:
While South African LGBT and HIV activists still have serious battles to fight, the fact of their unprecedented constitutional protections serve as an object lesson for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocates here in the United States. As US citizens and as LGBT people, we should not think of ourselves as an isolated movement, nor can we afford to. The struggles and triumphs of LGBT people worldwide are our struggles and triumphs. We strengthen our own movement when we look beyond our own borders.This is why, in 1990, I founded the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission-an organization that fights against human rights abuses on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status. Today, as US activists celebrate 15 years of working in the international human rights movement, it is time to take a moment to reflect on what we have accomplished, and what we have learned; and remember how far we still need to go to achieve equality and safety for ourselves and for others around the world.The LGBT movement in the United States has benefited tremendously from the successes of other countries. Case in point: the Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, which decriminalized sodomy, drew from extensive citations of laws on the books in other countries as diverse as Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, and the Congo.
Though this trend goes far beyond the courts, Julie Dorf’s article is a reminder that the selective use of foreign legal precedents presents a real and present danger to the legitimacy of American courts –and to the moral legitimacy of American culture.