At a pride event hosting guest of honor Masha Gessen, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry tells LGBT foreign affairs personnel he is "working hard to ensure that by the end of my tenure, we will have lesbian, bisexual, and transgender ambassadors in our ranks as well."
John Kerry addressed the members of GLIFAA to celebrate pride last Thursday, promising them he is "working hard to ensure that by the end of my tenure, we will have lesbian, bisexual, and transgender ambassadors in our ranks as well." GLIFAA (formerly Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies) is organization that represents foreign affairs and foreign service LGBT personnel and their families, including those who work for the State Department.
There are currently five gay U.S. Ambassadors, including James "Wally" Brewster who is serving in the Dominican Republic. Ambassador Brewster and his husband posted a pride video this month. Ted Osius, when confirmed, will be the sixth.
The Secretary of State praised Robyn Alice McCutcheon, the "first transgender Foreign Service officer to come out on the job," noting, "believe me it wasn't easy."
"I think everybody here knows that. When she was posted in Bucharest, she faced a lot of prejudice, she had to deal with completely inappropriate judgments that people were making, questions about her abilities, but she didn't just persevere. In the end, she won the hearts of the Ambassador, her career Foreign Service colleagues, Civil Service colleagues, and the local staff, and she actually made Embassy Bucharest a model of acceptance. She even authored the first State Department report on transgender issues, and she didn't just get through a difficult period, she was determined to turn it into a precedent-setting event, and as a result she made it a lot easier for those - or at least a little easier for those who follow. And I can't begin to tell you and I think everybody here knows what a difference that has made."
Secretary Kerry also welcomed Russian LGBT activist, author, and guest of honor Masha Gessen, "for her own special perseverance and advocacy."
"When all the repressive anti-LGBT laws in Russia threatened literally to break apart her family, she put up a fight," Sec. Kerry said. "Fearlessly, she spoke out on Russia's only independent television channel, and her Pink Triangle Campaign, which everybody became familiar with, unleashed a wave of grassroots activism. And the government in Moscow may look at Masha as a troublemaker to contend with, but here in the United States, we know that she is a wonderful person - a mother, a journalist, an extraordinary human rights defender - and we are honored by her presence here. Thank you for being here."
He also praised his predecessor, Hillary Clinton.
"I'm proud to follow in the footsteps of an extraordinary advocate for the cause. When Hillary Clinton gave that speech in front of the Human Rights Council in Geneva and said five simple words, "Gay rights are human rights," she transformed the debate. And standing here with Robyn, I want to build on that legacy, because LGBT rights are human rights, and human rights are LGBT rights."
Hat tip: Weekly Standard
Image by U.S. Department of State via Flickr
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