In addition to violating various provisions of federal and state constitutions, anti-gay ballot initiatives may violate international human rights norms. I see three reasons to invoke international human rights to challenge these initiatives. First, international human rights norms place the struggle for gay and lesbian rights in its proper context as a struggle for human rights. Second, some of the international human rights instruments provide both a source of legal obligation and an additional forum to challenge anti-gay ballot initiatives. Third and finally, if lesbian and gay activists in the United States establish that documents such as the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man can protect the human rights of gay and lesbian persons, this will help gay and lesbian persons in other countries who also face discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Part I of this Article discusses the legal basis for invoking the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man ("American Declaration") as a source of legal obligation in the United States. Part II of this Article applies the American Declaration in a context that promotes queer legal rights in challenging anti-gay ballot initiatives. Part III concludes with additional observations of the premise of this article, with a view toward advancing the specific purpose of placing the struggle for gay and lesbian rights in its context as a struggle for human rights.
Mark E. Wojcik, Using International Human Rights Law to Advance Queer Rights: A Case Study for the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, 55 Ohio St. L.J. 649 (1994).