Posts Tagged 'Howard Berman'

Committee on Foreign Affairs of the U.S. Congress adopts LGBT provision

US-Senate-Committee-on-Foreign-RelationsJuly 20, 2001—The Committee on Foreign Affairs of the U.S. Congress adopted an amendment late on Thursday calling on “the Secretary of State to discourage foreign governments from condoning murder and other forms of physical violence that is directed against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”  The amendment was offered to the Foreign Relations Authorization bill by David Cicilline (D-RI), the openly gay former Mayor of Providence, who introduced it after two other more detailed LGBT amendments were rejected by the Committee along largely party line votes.

The two defeated amendments were offered by Cicilline and the Committee’s ranking Democrat, Howard Berman (D-CA).  Those provisions were rejected by Republicans, with the exception of the Chairman of the Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who broke with her party to support the LGBT language.  The debate was contentious, but after several procedural battles, a watered-down Cicilline amendment was adopted by voice vote.

The larger bill has some highly partisan provisions, including one that would reinstate the so-called “global gag rule” to prohibit funding for international reproductive health groups that provide abortion-related information, referrals or services overseas.  As such, it is not expected to pass both houses of Congress in its current form.

The newly adopted LGBT provision in the House bill sets a very low bar for international engagement, but the Council is pleased that it was supported by Republicans, including vocal support from the Republican Chairman, and that the Secretary of State has already committed to engage on these issues as important human rights priorities internationally.

Bipartisan Support for Secretary Clinton’s Leadership on International LGBT Rights

Capitol Hill ImageJune 28, 2011—Leaders of the LGBT Equality Caucus and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in the U.S. Congress sent a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State Clinton last week welcoming her “leadership in responding to human rights abuses targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals around the world.”  Quoting the Secretary’s statement at a Pride celebration last year, where she said that “human rights are gay rights and gay rights are human rights,” the letter, which was signed by 45 members of Congress, calls for the Secretary “to continue to build on that commitment.”

The 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 details many of the State Department’s actions in support of LGBT rights over the past year, and it calls 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 letter here.

Just this week, the Secretary renewed her commitment at another Pride celebration, where the LGBT employee group at the State Department (Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies) awarded the Secretary the group’s first-ever Equality Award.  See her remarks at this year’s Pride event here.


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