Posts Tagged 'Michael Guest'

Tierney Introduces Bipartisan International Human Rights Defense Act

John F. TierneyFrom the Office of John F. Tierney

Bill would make LGBT equality a critical U.S. international human rights priority

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman John F. Tierney (D-MA), along with Congressman Chris Gibson (R-NY) and Congressman Richard Hanna (R-NY), introduced the International Human Rights Defense Act. This bipartisan legislation would direct the U.S. Department of State to make international LGBT human rights a foreign policy priority and would establish a position within the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor to be responsible for coordinating that effort.

“While the United States has been making strides toward promoting and achieving LGBT equality here in our country, this is unfortunately not the case globally. We must lead the fight to help end discrimination and secure basic human rights for LGBT individuals around the world,” said Congressman John Tierney. “The International Human Rights Defense Act would bolster America’s commitment to the international LGBT community by facilitating federal government coordination on making the promotion of international LGBT human rights a priority. As the United States continues its steady movement toward providing fundamental human rights for all people regardless of who they love, it is our obligation to fight for those same rights for LGBT individuals facing hardships in other countries.”

 “I am proud to join with Reps. Tierney, Hanna, Cicilline, Esty,Lowenthal, McGovern and Schakowsky to introduce this important legislation.  For the first time in the history of our country, we are aiming to establish a concrete policy and process by which we can best deploy our considerable diplomatic clout and resources towards protecting victims of LGBT discrimination,” said Congressman Chris Gibson.  “On our best day, other countries want to be like us, and for that reason it is crucial that we lead by example with our founding principles of human dignity, freedom, and equal protection.  I encourage all of my colleagues to join us in this effort.”

“Discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation is unacceptable anywhere it happens,” Congressman Richard Hanna said. “In the United States we are continuing to work toward full equality and tolerance for all Americans, including our LGBT friends, family members and coworkers. There is still much work to be done at home and around the world. As a beacon of freedom and opportunity for all people, the U.S. must continue to play a leading role in this effort. No one should face unjust treatment – or be classified as a criminal – based on who they love. It is a basic human right that all people deserve. I am pleased to join Reps. Tierney and Gibson in this effort and I look forward to more bipartisan support from our colleagues in the House.”

“While the United States has made huge strides forward for LGBT equality, we know that the same is not true in many countries where LGBT people face harassment, bigotry, and violence on a daily basis,” said David Stacy, Government Affairs Director for the Human Rights Campaign. “Global human rights – including human rights for LGBT people – must be a top priority of the U.S. Government.  The Human Rights Campaign is proud to support the International Human Rights Defense Act, which would build an unprecedented framework into U.S. diplomacy to protect LGBT rights worldwide.  We thank Congressman Tierney for his leadership on this important issue.”

“Around the globe, LGBT people face threats, violence, and discrimination on a daily basis,” said Amnesty International USA Executive Director, Steven Hawkins. “The United States can and must play a lead role in ending the human rights abuses that the LGBT community faces around the world. The International Human Rights Defense Act will help to ensure that the United States lives up to its global commitment to protect and advance LGBT rights as human rights.”

“Around the world, LGBT individuals are denied the fundamental freedoms that every American holds dear, and the universal human rights their governments have pledged to respect.  A Special Envoy can work with other countries to strengthen these freedoms and commitments, and to ensure that cultural differences are not an excuse for discrimination and abuse.  The Council for Global Equality welcomes this bill’s introduction and urges its speedy passage,” said Amb. (ret.) Michael Guest, Senior Advisor, Council for Global Equality.

 “We support Rep. Tierney for taking leadership in the House on the issue of rights for LGBTI persons,” said Chloe Schwenke, vice president for global programs at Freedom House. “Freedom House welcomes the genuine bipartisan base of support for fundamental human rights performance as covered by this bill. The legislation, which is the House companion of the International Human Rights Defense Act introduced by Sen. Ed Markey in the Senate last month, would solidify the United States’ commitment to protecting and promoting the rights of LGBTI people around the world.  It is vital that the United States support these communities through foreign assistance and diplomacy, and this legislation would give the State Department and USAID additional tools to do so.”

The International Human Rights Defense Act is supported by a number of prominent equality organizations including Amnesty International USA, Council for Global Equality, RFK Center for Human Rights, Human Rights Campaign, Freedom House, Human Rights First, American Jewish World Service, National Center for Transgender Equality, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and Advocates for Youth.

Similar legislation was recently filed in the Senate by Senator Edward Markey (D-MA). A full list of original cosponsors: Representatives David Cicilline (D-RI), Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All photos by Noah Devereaux

Click to read related content. 

Listen to joint briefing by the White House and State Department on the annual Human Rights Report

Listen to a joint briefing by the White House and State Department on the annual Human Rights Report here.  (duration 58:21—Please note it will take a moment for playback to begin)

The State Department released its annual human rights report on May 24 this year.  (Copies are available on www.humanrights.gov.)  The Congressionally mandated report chronicles human rights conditions in every country, and it now includes a section on “Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.” Following the release of the report, the Council organized this briefing to discuss human rights trends impacting LGBT communities abroad.  The briefing featured Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Dan Baer and White House National Security Council Director for Human Rights and Gender, Liz Drew, who discussed the trends and highlighted the steps the Administration is taking to respond.  Listen here.

We also invite you to visit our website www.globalequality.org, where you will find information on LGBT reporting in the Human Rights Reports over the past few years.  You can also download our new NGO Guide, Accessing U.S. Embassies: A Guide for LGBT Human Rights Defenders, which  highlights the various diplomatic tools that U.S. embassies use to advance a range of human rights and development objectives for LGBT communities abroad.

Related: A Widespread Pattern of Abuses Against LGBT People Worldwide Featured Again in 2011 Human Rights Report to Congress

Persecution of all, not selected, groups should be condemned

Michael Guest, The Council for Global EqualityRepost from the Charlotte Observer

From Michael Guest, a former Bush Administration ambassador who advises the Council for Global Equality, a coalition of human rights and LGBT advocacy groups.

Rev. Franklin Graham has suggested publicly a cut off of U.S. foreign assistance to Egypt, in response to the latter’s persecution of Christians.

And so, in light of the State Department’s latest human rights reports, how does Rev. Graham feel about providing assistance to Panama, Cameroon, El Salvador and other countries where officials were implicated last year of unlawfully harassing, detaining, or brutalizing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens?

State’s annual human rights report to Congress, released May 24, is widely regarded as the most comprehensive assessment available of human rights abuse abroad. The report is worth taking in.

In Jamaica, police were implicated in 12 cases of assault or other abuse directed at LGBT people. In South Africa, an average of 10 cases per week was reported of lesbians being subjected to “corrective rape,” generally without police response.

In Nigeria, local authorities failed to act against those responsible for stoning and beating members of an LGBT-affirming Christian church. Authorities in China, Russia, the Dominican Republic and Moldova denied freedom of assembly to LGBT citizens and groups. And in dozens of countries, gay and transgender people were denied employment or basic social services, including health, housing and education – only because of who they are.

Rev. Graham is right to be concerned about abuses directed at Egypt’s Coptic Christians. I stand at his side in expressing outrage, both at what this minority has suffered and at the Egyptian Government’s failure, more broadly, to protect minority rights.

But human rights are, if anything, a matter of principle. They are as universal as God’s love. And if all are created in God’s image, every person deserves respect. Continue reading ‘Persecution of all, not selected, groups should be condemned’


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