August 3, 2011 – State Department officials today briefed the LGBT Equality Caucus in the U.S. Congress on their foreign policy efforts to promote fundamental human rights for LGBT communities globally. The briefing was organized in response to a Congressional sign-on letter that was sent to Secretary Clinton in June to welcome her “leadership in responding to human rights abuses targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals around the world.” The bipartisan letter, signed by 45 members of Congress, called on Secretary Clinton to continue to build on that work, and asked for additional information on steps the State Department has taken to inject LGBT-related human rights concerns into our public and private diplomacy. The Council for Global Equality moderated the briefing.
The June letter was organized by Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who helped launch the LGBT Equality Caucus in the last Congress, and it was endorsed both by the Republican Chariman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and the Ranking Democrat, Howard Berman (D-CA), who have both taken principled positions to promote the fundamental rights of LGBT communities through their foreign affairs leadership. The letter noted many of the State Department’s actions in support of LGBT rights over the past year, and it called for additional information so that Congress can work with the State Department “to situate this agenda within our country’s broader human rights, public diplomacy and international development priorities.” See a copy of the Congressional letter here.
In addition to the briefing, the State Department also responded last week with an equally detailed letter to Congress outlining its commitment to LGBT rights and its work in support of fundamental human rights globally. See the State Department’s response here.