Posts Tagged 'Mark Bromley'

Evangelicals Are Winning The Gay Marriage Fight — in Africa and Russia

Photo: Walter AstradaA/AFP/Getty Images

Photo: Walter AstradaA/AFP/Getty Images

Repost from National Journal

Long before President Obama selected three gay athletes to lead the American delegation to the Sochi Olympics, long before President Vladimir Putin declared Russia to be the world’s new “moral compass,” and long before practically anyone in the West had even heard of that country’s new “homosexual propaganda” law, one American had thought deeply about it—because he’d helped invent it. “My greatest success, in terms of my own personal strategy, is Russia,” Scott Lively says from his native Massachusetts, where he launched a quixotic bid for governor this year.

Lively, who is being sued in U.S. federal court by a gay-rights group for alleged crimes against humanity over his work fighting “the gay agenda” in Uganda, led a 50-city tour through the former Soviet Union several years ago to warn its citizens about the international gay conspiracy. His message and his proposed solution—to criminalize LGBT advocacy—were received with open arms in town-hall meetings, local legislatures, and St. Petersburg, which sent an open letter to the Russian people and later became one of the first cities in the country to outlaw “homosexual propaganda,” paving the way for the national legislation.

“I was an alcoholic and a drug addict until I got saved in 1986, and since that time my focus has been to restore a biblical focus with regards to marriage and sexuality,” he says. Lively became a lawyer, author, and advocate in pursuit of the cause, but he gave up on the United States almost a decade ago, when one of his cases (challenging an antidiscrimination law)failed. “I began shifting my emphasis, which is going to the other countries in the world that are still culturally conservative to warn them about how the Left has advanced its agenda in the U.S., Canada, and Europe—and to help put barriers in place. And the goal is to build a consensus of moral countries to actually roll back the leftist agenda in my country,” he explains matter-of-factly.

For Lively and the rest of a small but incredibly influential band of American activists who spend their time crisscrossing the globe to meet with foreign lawmakers, deliver speeches, make allies, cut checks, and otherwise foment a backlash against the so-called international gay-rights agenda, this is nothing less than a war for the fate of human civilization. Continue Reading

High Hopes as Obama Prepares to Meet with Russian Gay Activists

President Obama is set to meet with a group of human rights advocates in Russia

Photo: Michael Kay, Washington Blade

Repost from the Washington Blade

President Obama is set to meet with a group of human rights advocates in Russia on Friday, including representatives of LGBT rights groups and many observers are hopeful that he will take the opportunity to express continued opposition to the country’s controversial anti-gay propaganda law.

During a stopover in Stockholm on Wednesday, Obama expressed solidarity with Sweden during opening remarks at a news conference by saying both the Nordic country and the United States have a shared belief in equality under the law, including for gay citizens.

“We share a belief in the dignity and equality of every human being; that our daughters deserve the same opportunities as our sons; that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters must be treated equally under the law; that our societies are strengthened and not weakened by diversity,” Obama said.

Obama restated his support for LGBT equality as he prepared to meet with Russian human rights groups and LGBT groups during his visit to St. Petersburg for the annual G-20 summit.

A White House official told the Washington Blade that Obama intends to meet with “civil society representatives” during his trip on Friday and LGBT groups were invited to the meeting.

“The president will meet with Russian civil society leaders to discuss the important role civil society plays in promoting human rights and tolerance,” the official said. “Invited are representatives from groups supporting human rights, the environment, free media, and LGBT rights, among others.”

Obama meets with these activists — as well as leaders from G-20 countries — at a time when he’s pushing for military engagement in Syria over the use of the chemical weapons in the country. That issue will likely play a large role in the discussions — at least with leaders from G-20 nations.

But LGBT advocates who work on international issues told the Washington Blade the meeting with human rights activists provides a stage to draw attention to the condition of human rights in Russia, including the situation for LGBT people. Continue Reading

LGBT Groups Applaud Naming of Ambassador Susan Rice and Samantha Power to New Posts

Susan Rice and Samantha PowerJune 5, 2013 – The Council for Global Equality and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) applaud President Obama’s decision to name Ambassador Susan Rice, who currently serves as the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations, as his new national security adviser and to nominate Samantha Power, a longtime friend of the human rights community, to take her place as the next U.S. Ambassador to the UN.

Mark Bromley, Chair of the Council for Global Equality, said: “We were pleased to honor Ambassador Rice with our Global Equality Award last year in recognition of her leadership and stalwart support for LGBT rights at the United Nations.  And the announcement today was certainly a double hit, as Samantha Power, who was nominated to take her place and serve as our next UN Ambassador, has been a great friend of LGBT rights – and of human rights for all – at the White House.  We couldn’t think of two stronger LGBT allies in the foreign policy world.”

Jessica Stern, Executive Director of IGLHRC, said, “Samantha Power has a proven track-record of support for US policies that affirm LGBT rights around the world, including by championing the first-ever strategic approach to LGBT rights in US foreign policy with the 2011 Presidential Memorandum.”[1]  Likewise, Stern noted, “Ambassador Rice has transformed the US’s engagement with LGBT rights at the UN, not only by fighting for IGLHRC to receive official UN accreditation but by fighting for every LGBT organization to receive the same opportunity.  Furthermore, her commitment to the issue resulted in the landmark decision of the UN General Assembly to condemn extrajudicial or arbitrary killings based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

In accepting the Global Equality award last year, Ambassador Rice noted that, “I am truly honored to receive this recognition, because LGBT rights has been one of my personal passions throughout my tenure at the United Nations and long before.”  She emphasized, “LGBT individuals around the world have sacrificed so much – including in some cases their lives – to seek and obtain their basic human rights.”

With the strong leadership of Ambassador Rice and Samantha Power over the past four years, the United States has finally joined governments from around the world in condemning violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and helping to institutionalize these long-neglected rights on the UN agenda.  The Council for Global Equality and IGLHRC look forward to working with Ambassador Rice and Samantha Power in their new positions as we continue to engage with the Obama Administration to advance global equality.

Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA) at 20

David Buss, GLIFAA 20 Year Anniversary

David Buss, GLIFAA’s founding president

A State Department event on Wednesday captured the remarkable changes in how LGBT citizens are winning acceptance and fair treatment in our country – and how American diplomatic muscle is persuading other countries to follow that same path.

On Wednesday, the State Department celebrated the 20th anniversary of GLIFAA, an organization representing the interests of LGBT employees of foreign affairs agencies.  As late as the 1970’s, being gay was considered a security risk – reason enough to stop a career.  Even after that practice ended and GLIFAA was formed, the life of gay diplomats was hardly “gay.”  Gay and lesbian employees sometimes found themselves in less desirable jobs; their day-to-day behavior often drew heightened scrutiny; often they found an uncomfortable fit at starched and formal diplomatic events, including American ones; their family members received none of the benefits that straight families enjoyed.

These issues are part of GLIFAA’s history of course:  more to the point, they are history, full stop.   At Wednesday’s event, speakers traced the arc of that history in human terms.  David Buss, GLIFAA’s founding president, spoke of the loneliness he felt as an out-gay employee in the 80s – how indeed he had been forced to come out to his family, in order to keep his job.  Secretary Clinton asked Tom Gallagher, the Department’s first out-gay employee, to stand:  he was the Department’s earliest gay pioneer, having the courage to live his life openly in those difficult 1970’s.  She asked the same of the Council’s own Michael Guest, our country’s first out-gay, Senate-confirmed ambassador, who left his career over the Department’s unequal treatment of gay families and then worked in the Obama Administration’s Transition Team to chart a path to their resolution.

Time-wise, their stories are bookends to a story of remarkable change at the Department – change that should be credited, in full, to the personal leadership of the Secretary and her Counselor, Cheryl Mills.  But the visuals of GLIFAA’s celebration were equally striking, and equally telling.  Merely holding the event in the marble-columned Benjamin Franklin Room – State’s top-floor formal reception room, where vice presidential diplomatic dinners are held and new ambassadors traditionally are sworn in – crystallized just how far GLIFAA has come.   So, of course, did the unprecedented presence of a sitting Secretary of State, surrounded by a bevy of political appointees from a cross-section of foreign affairs agencies and the Office of Personnel Management. Continue reading ‘Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA) at 20′

Remarks at the 20th Anniversary of Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFFA)

Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, GLIFAARemarks: Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, DC
November 28, 2012

Click here to watch a video of the event.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you all, very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. (Laughter.) Thank you, all. Thank you.

Yeah, that’s good. (Laughter.) Wow. Well, welcome to the Ben Franklin Room. (Laughter.) And congratulations on your 20th anniversary. I am so pleased to be here and to have this chance to join this celebration. Ken, thank you for your kind words and your efforts here to make this day possible. I am extremely pleased that Cheryl Mills, my friend as well as Chief of Staff and Counselor is here, so that those of you who may not have met her or even seen her, given how shy and retiring she is – (laughter) – can express your appreciation to her for her tireless efforts.

I’m delighted that Deputy Secretary Tom Nides is here. Tom, who some of you know, who you’ve had a chance to work with him, has been just an extraordinary deputy. Also let me recognize USAID Deputy Administrator Don Steinberg. He’s been an unyielding advocate for the LGBT community at USAID. We also have a number of ambassadors and deputy chiefs of mission, both past and present, some of whom have literally traveled from the other side of the world to be here. David, I’m talking about you. And we have Michael Guest with us, our country’s first out ambassador to be confirmed by the Senate and someone who’s remained an outspoken champion for LGBT rights, despite having to endure countless attacks and threats. Michael, why don’t you stand up so that you can be recognized? (Applause.) Continue reading ‘Remarks at the 20th Anniversary of Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFFA)’

2012 Global Equality Leadership Award Event Photos

We would like to thank everyone who attended the award ceremony and reception for Ambassador Susan E. Rice, especially our gracious hosts. For those of you who were not able make it, you can view some photos from the event.

Ambassador Rice’s remarks, at the event, were not only moving, they were humorous, determined, and and most of all genuine. So glad that the LGBT community has an ally with her principles and drive. Stay tuned for a short video of the award ceremony.

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All photos by Noah Devereaux

Click to read related content. 

The Council for Global Equality honors Ambassador Susan E. Rice with the 2012 Global Equality Leadership Award

Ambassador Susan E. Rice accepting The Global Equality Leadership Award

Photo: Noah Devereaux

October 10, 2012 – The Council for Global Equality honored Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, with its 2012 Global Equality Leadership Award at a reception this evening at the home of Mitch Draizin and Fritz Brugere-Trelat.  The award recognizes U.S. leadership in support of LGBT equality in the United States and abroad.  Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin was the last award recipient.

Former U.S. Ambassador Michael Guest, a former State Department colleague of Rice and currently a Senior Adviser to the Council for Global Equality, presented the award to her.  In his remarks, he noted the leadership qualities he had seen in Ambassador Rice across her many years of public service and described how those qualities had empowered the UN’s growing recognition that LGBT rights are human rights.

In accepting the award, Rice noted that “I am truly honored to receive this recognition, because LGBT rights has been one of my personal passions throughout my tenure at the United Nations and long before.”  She explained that the struggle is personal, noting “the fight for equal rights is fundamental.  It defines who I am, how I was raised, where I come from, and where I am determined to go. . . . That principle is what made us a nation and its implementation, progressively but still not sufficiently, is at the core of our work to perfect our nation.”  She emphasized that “LGBT individuals around the world have sacrificed so much – including in some cases their lives – to seek and obtain their basic human rights.”

Mark Bromley, Chair of the Council for Global Equality, noted that “in December 2008, just before Ambassador Rice took her seat at the UN, the United States refused to join a basic UN statement affirming that LGBT rights are human rights, leaving us alone among all of our close allies in our regional Western voting bloc at the UN to reject that fundamental premise.  Since then, thanks to Ambassador Rice’s personal commitment and leadership, the United States has emerged as one of the strongest international advocates for LGBT rights at the UN and beyond.”

Julie Dorf, also Senior Adviser to the Council for Global Equality and the founder of the New York-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), which advocates for LGBT rights globally, noted Rice’s leadership in securing UN recognition for IGLHRC, the first such UN recognition for an LGBT group from the United States.  That status allows IGLHRC to speak in support of LGBT rights at UN human rights fora.  IGLHRC’s current Executive Director, Jessica Stern, also thanked Ambassador Rice for her leadership and noted the role that organizations like hers are playing in partnering with supportive governments to advance LGBT equality for all.

Under the leadership of Ambassador Susan Rice, the United States has finally joined our closest allies in the UN in condemning violence, harassment, and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  And by directing the full force of U.S. diplomacy to such long-neglected human rights concerns, Rice helped put LGBT rights firmly on the UN agenda with an unprecedented new appeal to all countries in all regions.  In accepting the award, Rice said that the struggles in support of LGBT equality at the United Nations are some of her “proudest moments at the UN,” recognizing that “together, we’ve made a bit of history. The UN is far different today than it was four years ago.”  The Council for Global Equality is proud to be a partner in such history and proud to recognize the leadership of Ambassador Susan Rice.

Latin American LGBT activists visit the U.S. on State Department-sponsored trip

Latin American LGBT activists visit the U.S. on State Department-sponsored trip

Laura Bronzino of Argentina and Jaime Parada in Chile in D.C. (Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Repost from the Washington Blade

Nine Latin American activists continue to tour the United States on a State Department-organized trip that is part of its ongoing efforts to promote human rights for LGBT people around the world.

Jaime Parada of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation in Chile; Laura Bronzino, president of the Misiones LGBT Association in Argentina; Henry Peralta, general director of the LGBT Equality Foundation in Bolivia; Marcela Sánchez, executive director of Colombia Diversa; Brazilian Congressman Jean de Matos; Francisco Madrigal of the Center for the Investigation and Promotion of Human Rights in Central America in Costa Rica; Efraín Soria, president of the Equity Foundation in Ecuador; José Lopéz, vice president of Comunidad Cultural de Tijuana LGBTI in México and Panamanian activist Augustín Rodríguez  began their trip in D.C. on Sept. 4. They met with Human Rights Campaign staffers, former HRC President Elizabeth Birch, Council for Global Equality President Mark Bromley, transgender activist Dr. Dana Beyer and gay Maryland state Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City,) representatives from the Justice Department, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and other federal agencies, human rights groups and non-governmental organizations while in the nation’s capital. The group also discussed the repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers at the Pentagon. Continue Reading

Advocacy at the International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC

Global Activists  Meet at the White House. International AIDS ConferenceDuring the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington this summer, the Council organized a series of meetings for 60 LGBT leaders from around the world to introduce them to U.S. government officials representing U.S. foreign affairs agencies.  LGBT leaders from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean held in-depth roundtable discussions with regional bureaus at the State Department and with the White House.  The meetings provided an opportunity for frontline activists to explain how they have experienced the recent change in U.S. foreign policy, whereby President Obama has directed “all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons.”

There was widespread appreciation for the new collaboration that LGBT advocates are receiving from U.S. embassies around the world.  In that sense, many activists described the meetings as having an historic quality to them.  The participants shared stories about U.S. embassy personnel reaching out to LGBT advocates, and they offered a number of positive comments on specific aspects of U.S. programming abroad.  At the same time, the Council recorded feedback on how our government can continue to improve its efforts to support local LGBT organizations in hostile environments internationally, including the following points:

  • U.S. embassy posts should engage LGBT organizations in an annual human rights dialogue across the year.  In parallel, posts should catalogue the priority needs of these organizations, with a view to discerning the relevance of State, USAID and other foreign affairs agency programming.
  • The Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator at the State Department should underscore to its overseas PEPFAR administrators that, as a matter of national policy integrity, programming for men who have sex with men (MSM) should be included in each country plan, regardless of whether host countries suggest this as a priority.
  • All U.S. foreign affairs agencies should integrate LGBT human and civil rights issues into training provided to U.S. and overseas employees.  Training should include both general policy information and its specific applicability to the overseas programs of individual agencies.
  • U.S. foreign affairs agencies should include binding contractual references to federal executive agency policies on sexual orientation and gender identity.  Only binding language can provide the leverage to ensure that program contractors do not undercut broader U.S. policy objectives through inappropriate projection of their personal biases.
  • The framing of our public diplomacy efforts is critical to their success.  Posts should engage local LGBT groups on the usefulness of public messaging on LGBT issues; what the content of that messaging might be; local or regional voices that might feature in any such messaging; and how this messaging might be integrated into broader democracy and civil society programming goals.
  • Further thought should be given to how LGBT individuals might be included in exchange programs related to democracy, civil society, and the rule of law.  LGBT inclusion in these programs should mirror in-country inclusion of LGBT people in post programs.
  • There is a clear need for greater engagement on rule of law issues impacting LGBT individuals abroad, including police training and post engagement with host governments on legal reform.  The recently passed U.S. hate crimes law could be a helpful fulcrum for this engagement.
  • Embassy posts should consider faith-focused programming, with the goal of encouraging dialogue between LGBT people and local faith leaders.  This engagement may be key to a long-term reduction of legislative and other discriminatory policies toward LGBT people.
  • Embassies should also consider increasing their small grant support for LGBT civil society groups, across all geographic regions.  These small grants, targeted toward needs identified by the groups themselves, can be lifelines for small and otherwise resource-stretched organizations.

Pride in U.S. Diplomatic Engagement: Council Chair Mark Bromley Reflects on U.S. Embassy Celebration in Japan

Bromley poses with the leader of the Social Democratic Party of Japan and Member of the House of Councillors, Mizuho Fukushima, and Taiga Ishikawa, an openly gay elected Member of Toshima Ward.

The Council was invited to join the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and the U.S. Consulate in Osaka last week to commemorate LGBT Pride month, and I had the great pleasure of traveling to Japan to participate in those programs.  I met with Japanese politicians, students, business leaders and LGBT advocates in a series of meetings and open discussions.  The meetings included a breakfast with political leaders, including some of the first out politicians in Japan, a small but impressive group that is gaining respect due to the quality of their service and their leadership in an otherwise treacherous political landscape.

In Osaka, openly gay U.S. Consul General Patrick Linehan welcomed me and moderated an open discussion about LGBT equality in the United States and beyond.  He and his husband, Emerson Kaneguske, have been role models in support of LGBT equality in Japan and have spoken publicly to the Japanese press about their relationship on a number of occasions.  Indeed, they may be one of the most famous gay couples in Japan.  They are also proud representatives of the diversity of our country.

In Osaka, some students were appropriately skeptical of U.S. leadership in support of LGBT equality globally, especially when so much remains to be done in the United States to further the cause of human rights in our own country.  And then there were those who are still upset with our country’s decision to invade Iraq—a grudge that I assured them I shared.  But I was happy to point to Secretary Clinton’s landmark speech at the United Nations in Geneva last December, where she spoke with resolute humility and absolute clarity to declare that gay rights are human rights.

In her UN speech, Secretary Clinton recognized that our own country’s record is far from perfect and that not everyone will agree with everything we do.  And she recognized that too many LGBT Americans have suffered—and continue to suffer—grave violence and discrimination in their lives.  But this month in particular, as we celebrate the progress we have made and the journey that lies ahead in the march toward full equality, it is altogether fitting that our embassies are opening their doors to promote honest conversations about the rights and dignity of LGBT communities around the world.  In the words of Secretary Clinton, that “constellation of conversations in places big and small,” is the first step in recognizing and protecting the human rights of LGBT people everywhere.

My week in Japan was capped by the first Pride reception at the Tokyo residence of U.S. Ambassador John Roos.  The reception brought together hundreds of political, economic and civil society leaders.  The Ambassador and Counsel General Linehan presented an award to the first transgender politician in Japan, Aya Kamikawa.  The Consul General also offered a very personal reflection on his service in the U.S. Foreign Service, noting that when he joined the State Department he was told in his first security briefing that there was no room for “homos.”  His journey from that day to today, serving now as a senior U.S. diplomat with his husband at his side, provided a personal narrative that touched both the Americans and the Japanese in the room.  Stars and Stripes also covered the poignant story of Master Sgt. Marc Maschhoff, who noted that after living in secret in the Air Force for 23 years, “now I’m invited to a reception by the emissary of the president of the United States,” where he proudly introduced his boyfriend to politicians and diplomats in the audience. That, too, made quite an impression.

Embassies around the world are hosting similar Pride receptions this month, and to me they demonstrate the remarkable potential that exists for the United States to promote dialogue in countries that may have even more difficulty than we do in speaking respectfully about LGBT equality.  When the ambassador, as emissary of the president, opens the discussion, it sends a powerful message to the world about the importance our country places on the conversation.  By including LGBT leaders, it personalizes the conversation in an important way.  And that, I think, creates the space for that constellation of conversations that must ultimately sustain our movement for global equality.


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