Posts Tagged 'Michael Guest'

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’

The Republican Party’s anti-gay bias

 Ric Grenell, The Republican Party’s anti-gay biasOp-Ed By Michael Guest, for the Washington Post (Print edition will be published on Sunday, May 6)

Michael Guest, the first openly gay ambassador confirmed by the Senate, was the U.S. ambassador to Romania from 2001 to 2004.

Only Ric Grenell can explain the “personal reasons” that compelled him to leave Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. If his departure was influenced even the slightest by the anti-gay attacks that followed his appointment, I sympathize.

In 2001, when I, an openly gay career Foreign Service officer, was sworn in to serve as U.S. ambassador to Romania, I and many others hoped that the Republican Party’s obsession with demonizing gay and lesbian citizens was at an overdue end. George W. Bush had chosen me, after all, and a secretary of state known to have advocated for “don’t ask, don’t tell” had sworn me in.

It wasn’t long before that hope was shattered. For months I received bags of hate mail, much of it from writers who identified themselves as “loyal Republicans.” A Republican congressional aide called soon after my arrival in Romania to ask whether my partner’s “socks and underwear” had been transported at taxpayer expense. It quickly became clear to me that the organizations that decried my nomination, or even called for it to be rescinded, shared a Republican membership base.

Grenell surely knows, as I do, many Republicans who believe that their party should be more open to gays and more accepting on issues of gay rights. But where are those voices, and what influence do they have? Republican Party leaders continue to allow principles of fairness and equality — so important at the founding of the GOP and, indeed, our country — to be hollowed out. Continue reading ‘The Republican Party’s anti-gay bias’

LGBTs have a voice in foreign affairs

Michael Guest, The Council for Global EqualityOp-Ed as it appears in the Bay Area Reporter, written by The Council for Global Equality, Senior Advisor, Michael Guest

When it comes to the rights of LGBT people abroad, you don’t have to look back very far to see the future.

David Bahati is at it again, reintroducing in Uganda’s parliament legislation that, in extreme cases, would put gay people to death for having same-sex relationships. Bahati’s unamended hate bill already has sailed through a first reading, and although it now has been sent back to committee for further review, volatility in Uganda’s politics underscore that it would be a mistake to assume the bill will remain bottled up.

Uganda is hardly the only place where anti-gay intolerance and discrimination is on the march. Only last week, Cameroon’s police forces arrested another 10 women, merely on the suspicion that they are lesbians. A newly introduced bill in Liberia would make homosexuality a felony, with prison sentences of up to 10 years. Nigeria’s Senate passed a bill late last year to penalize more severely not only gay relationships, but human rights defenders who work on behalf of gay rights; its lower house appears poised to bring this legislation into law. And in St. Petersburg, Russia, a bill that would sharply circumscribe the freedom of expression for LGBT people has sailed through its third hearing. Continue reading ‘LGBTs have a voice in foreign affairs’

A Changed U.S. State Department

Ambassador Michael Guest (Council for Global Equality) x390 | Advocate.com

By former U.S. ambassador to Romania  and Senior Advisor to The Council for Global Equality, Michael Guest

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s December 6 Geneva speech on LGBT rights is another high-water mark in the Obama administration’s integration of the human and civil rights of LGBT people into U.S. foreign policy.

Clinton spoke to a diplomatic audience, one that included ambassadors from a range of countries that criminally penalize same-sex relations and relationships. Her message — that LGBT people are humans with inherent and equal value — was framed with reason and wrapped in sensitivity to culture and religion. The references to her own personal journey on this issue, and to that of our country, underscored that fairness for LGBT people is a common cause, not a subject for lecture.

This, of course, confirms a refreshing change of direction for U.S. diplomacy on a previously ignored problem. The U.S. is a latecomer to international efforts to address the horrific abuses that LGBT people suffer around the world, and the need for our voice has never been more acute. The Obama administration has risen to the occasion in numerous examples where LGBT rights have been at stake. Although a good start, these efforts often have carried a catch-up feel, without strategic thought or direction. Clinton’s speech provides that framework and direction. Continue reading ‘A Changed U.S. State Department’

Amb. (ret.) Michael Guest, today’s LGBT History Month Icon

Join us in congratulating our colleague, Amb. (ret.) Michael Guest, Senior Advisor to The Council for Global Equality in being today’s LGBT History Month Icon. To learn more about one of Michael’s many contributions to our community, watch the short video.


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