We live in a democracy, right? Not some terrible place like Afghanistan that insists women stay indoors, not hold paying jobs and cover their entire bodies on those few occasions they leave their homes, right? True enough, but when one senator can hold up Congress’s approval of the international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, it makes you stop, wonder and, well, become outraged.

U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms, Republican chair of the U.S. Senate foreign relations committee, says that U.S. ratification of the 20-year-old document “isn’t going to happen” because “it is a terrible treaty negotiated by radical feminists with the intent of enshrining their radical antifamily agenda into international law.” Helms position aligns us with 25 other “pro-family” nations, including–you guessed it–Afghanistan, along with Monaco, Iran, and the Sudan. The 165 nations who have approved it include all those in Europe and Latin America.

What are we to say to the thousands of women who have gathered in New York this week to attend Beijing + Five and measure the advances of women in their home countries? Sorry, but Jesse’s opinion is the only one that counts here in the U.S.?