The commission created by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to reconsider U.S. human rights policy, ostensibly according to the principles of unalienable rights and a particular interpretation of natural law, held its most recent public meeting at the U.S. State Department on Friday, where the Ruth Institute’s Jennifer Roback Morse used the Q&A time to read a statement and submit a petition that urges President Donald Trump and Pompeo to “Make the Family Great Again.” Morse claimed that “the family itself has human rights.” Morse is essentially asking the commission to endorse the idea that the so-called “traditional family” has “fundamental” rights that equal or exceed those of individuals.
When the Commission on Unalienable Rights was created last year, anti-LGBTQ activist Brian Brown called it an “extraordinary opening to push for clear and consistent recognition of the natural family,” adding that it “gives us a forum to challenge American foreign policy that has in the past advanced the extreme agenda of the left that has been cloaked in the language of so-called human rights.”
The Ruth Institute started as a project of Brown’s National Organization for Marriage, so it’s not surprising that Morse shares his view about the potential for the commission to help them advance their anti-equality agenda. Morse’s petition signers include an array of U.S. and international anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ activists, including Gary Bauer, Janice Crouse, Robert George, Mike Huckabee, Alveda King, Rick Scarborough, and Sharon Slater. Among the signers from outside the U.S. is Levan Vasadze, the businessman and anti-LGBTQ activist who hosted the 2016 World Congress of Families global summit in the capital of Georgia, the former Soviet republic.
The petition urges the Commission on Unalienable Rights to “work for recognition of the following fundamental rights”:
- The right of every child to a relationship with his or her natural mother and father except for an unavoidable tragedy.
- The right of every person to know the identity of his or her biological parents.
- The right to life from conception to natural death.
- The right of families to educate their own children in their faith tradition and values without being undermined by the state.
Human rights advocates, LGBTQ-equality activists, and others are concerned that the commission—dominated by conservative academics—was created to provide intellectual justification for bringing human rights advocacy in line with right-wing complaints about human rights “inflation.” And they worry that most commission members aim to put a right-wing interpretation of religious liberty into a top tier of rights that would exclude other rights recognized by the U.S. and the international community since the founding of the United Nations. The commission has been holding monthly public meetings, hearing from speakers expressing a range of views, and taking public questions. Its report is expected sometime this spring.
Pompeo and other Trump administration officials have also spent the past year mobilizing a new “pro-family” coalition of conservative and authoritarian governments designed to resist any international agreements or action by U.N. agencies that recognize reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality (which is deemed to be “anti-family”), and comprehensive sex education.
Morse claimed a few years ago that the goal of “radical feminists” and “sexual revolutionaries” was to expand the power of the state to take control over family life—and that they were using divorce and gay marriage to do it.
The Ruth Institute bills itself as “a global non-profit organization equipping Christians to defend the family and build a civilization of love.” It promotes “those who have walked away from a same sex lifestyle” and other “survivors of the sexual revolution.”
Morse’s statement at the State Department was promoted by One News Now, a news arm of the American Family Association.