The Trump administration has appointed a high-profile, LGBTQ-negative Catholic to lead a new human rights commission that has raised concerns for advocates of gender and sexual equality.
Mary Ann Glendon, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See for President George W. Bush, was announced as chair of the State Department’s newly created Commission on Unalienable Rights. The Commission is to be grounded in natural law theory, an approach from medieval theology heavily favored in the Catholic Church even today and which has often been employed against LGBTQ people.
Glendon commended U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for convening such a commission when “basic human rights are being misunderstood by many, manipulated by many, and ignored by the world’s worst human rights violators,” reported Crux. Glendon’s appointment has raised alarms for advocates of LGBTQ and women’s equality, which she has long opposed. NBC News explained:
“Glendon began to sound the alarm on gay unions in 2003, soon after Massachusetts’ highest court moved to legalize same-sex marriage. That year, she signed a public letter in support of the Alliance for Marriage’s Federal Marriage Amendment, a proposed same-sex marriage ban.
“‘In 2004, Glendon wrote that same-sex unions represent “a bid for special preferences,’ because, she said, marriage is designed for child rearing. . .
“When New York moved to legalize gay marriage in 2011, Glendon urged the Legislature to shelve the legislation until sufficient religious liberty protections could be added. More recently, in 2018, Glendon wrote a glowing review for the cover of ‘When Harry Became Sally,”‘a book that said transgender people are ‘a politically correct fad built on a shaky platform.'”
Glendon, who is currently a professor at Harvard Law School, led the Vatican’s delegation to the 1995 United Nations Beijing meeting on women where she staunchly opposed use of condoms for HIV/AIDS prevention. That meeting was one of the first times the Vatican raised opposition to an alleged “gender ideology,” a topic of much discussion now. Without mentioning LGBTQ issues specifically, Glendon has promoted the idea that Western human rights activists are practicing a new form of “neocolonialism.”
Glendon serves on the board of right wing institutions like Becket (formerly known as the Becket Fund) which takes on anti-LGBTQ litigation, the publication First Things, and Catholic University’s Institute for Human Ecology, which promotes LGBTQ-negative “human rights” education. Glendon has even attacked journalists for uncovering sexual abuse in the church. According to CNN, she said of the Boston Globe being nominated for the Pulitzer Price for its groundbreaking report on systemic clergy sexual abuse, “awarding the Pulitzer to the Boston Globe would be like giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Osama bin Laden.”
Glendon’s natural law approach will be supported by the Commission’s other members (Russell Berman, Peter Berkowitz, Paolo Carozza, Hamza Yusuf Hanson, Jacqueline Rivers, Meir Soloveichik, Katrina Lantos Swett, Christopher Tollefsen, David Tse-Chien Pan), many of whom are anti-LGBTQ:
“Among the members flagged by GLAAD are Peter Berkowitz, who in 2003 called the Supreme Court ruling that decriminalized homosexuality ‘dangerous’; Shaykh Hamza Yusuf Hanson, who said in 2011 that same-sex marriage is a sign of the ‘end times’; Meir Soloveichik, who in 2012 wrote in a blurb that an anti-LGBTQ book was an ‘influential defense of marriage as it has been historically and rightly understood’; Jacqueline Rivers, who in 2014 said same-sex marriages diminish straight unions; Christopher Tollefsen, who in 2015 said gender transitions are a ‘mark of a heartless culture’; and F. Cartwright Weiland, who in 2017 worked for a think tank that calls marriage ‘a permanent relationship between one man and one woman.'”
Last week, I wrote that Catholics must intervene against any potential misuses of natural law by the Trump administration. (Some theologians have argued for an updating of natural law theory, based on contemporary knowledge, which would allow for an updating of church teaching on LGBT people and women.)Natural law theory is just one approach in the Catholic tradition, and it remains a favored approach for the bishops LGBTQ-negative agenda. They cannot therefore be trusted to adequately challenge the administration. Glendon’s horrible record on gender and sexual equality means she cannot be trusted either. This reality raises the stakes even further for the rest of the faithful to stop the Commission on Unalienable Rights from undermining LGBTQ and women’s equality worldwide.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, July 15, 2019