@StateDept Apologizes For Past Discrimination Against #LGBTI Employees/Applicants

Posted: 1:32 pm ET

 

The 68th Secretary of State, John F. Kerry, today, apologized on behalf of the State Department for the discrimination of employees and applicants based on sexual orientation.  Below is his statement:

Throughout my career, including as Secretary of State, I have stood strongly in support of the LGBTI community, recognizing that respect for human rights must include respect for all individuals. LGBTI employees serve as proud members of the State Department and valued colleagues dedicated to the service of our country. For the past several years, the Department has pressed for the families of LGBTI officers to have the same protections overseas as families of other officers. In 2015, to further promote LGBTI rights throughout the world, I appointed the first ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons.

In the past – as far back as the 1940s, but continuing for decades – the Department of State was among many public and private employers that discriminated against employees and job applicants on the basis of perceived sexual orientation, forcing some employees to resign or refusing to hire certain applicants in the first place. These actions were wrong then, just as they would be wrong today.

On behalf of the Department, I apologize to those who were impacted by the practices of the past and reaffirm the Department’s steadfast commitment to diversity and inclusion for all our employees, including members of the LGBTI community.

For the historical discrimination that spanned decades, this has been a long time coming. We are pleased to see this public apology. ADST’s Oral History notes that in the 1950s and 60s, “security within the U.S. government, including the State Department, was on high alert for internal risks, particularly Communists and what were considered to be sexual deviants—homosexuals and promiscuous individuals. Investigating homosexuality became a core function of the Department’s Office of Security, which ferreted out more people for homosexuality than for being a Communist.”

In 1950, a subcommittee chaired by Maryland Senator Millard Tydings convened to investigate Joseph McCarthy’s notorious list of “205 known communists.” Tydings worked to discredit McCarthy’s claim, but, in the process, the subcommittee concluded that the State Department was overrun with “sexual perverts,” part of the so-called “Lavender Scare.” 

During the hearings, Nebraska Senator Kenneth Wherry memorably claimed that as many as 3,000 homosexuals were employed at State. By the end of 1950, 600 people had been dismissed from positions at the State Department on morals charges. In 1973 a federal judge ruled that a person’s sexual orientation alone could not be the sole reason for termination from federal employment; two years later, the Civil Service Commission announced that it would consider applications by gays and lesbians on a case-by-case basis.

Read more here: Being Gay in the Foreign Service and The “Lavender Scare”: Homosexuals at the State Department

 

Related posts:

 

Conservative Group Blasts Tillerson Pick, Wants Pro-LGBT “Activists” in @StateDept “Ferreted Out” (Updated)

Posted: 1:52 am ET
Updated: 9:32 am PT
Update: 12/20, 12:47 pm PT (click here for comment during DPB)

 

We just blogged that House Democrats called on the State Department to resist potential Trump political witch-hunts). And what do you know?  On December 15, Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council issued the following statement, excerpt:

The Obama administration has not only sent openly gay ambassadors into countries that are culturally opposed to homosexuality, they’ve used foreign aid to force nations opposed to homosexuality to change their laws to provide special protections for such behavior. And even flown the rainbow flag at U.S. embassies around the world! Equally, the Obama State Department under Hillary Clinton also promoted abortion, declaring reproductive healthcare a basic human right.
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…. I have raised concerns about the nomination of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of state. I certainly don’t see Tillerson cut from the same cloth as Clinton or Kerry, but he doesn’t have to be for these anti-life, liberal social policies to continue. He must have the courage to stop the promotion of this anti-family, anti-life agenda, which is very much a question mark given that he capitulated to activists pushing to liberalize the Boy Scouts’ policy on homosexuality when he was at the helm of the organization.

The incoming administration needs to make clear that these liberal policies will be reversed and the “activists” within the State Department promoting them will be ferreted out and will be replaced by conservatives who will ensure the State Department focuses on true international human rights like religious liberty which is under unprecedented assault.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the Family Research Council (FRC) is an anti-LGBT extreme group that bills itself as “the leading voice for the family in our nation’s halls of power,” but that “its real specialty is defaming gays and lesbians.” SPLC has also published an extremist profile of Perkins here.

Updated:  According to HuffPo, Trump’s transition team released a statement expressing strong opposition to the Family Research Council’s appeal.  “President-elect Trump campaigned on a message of unity in order to bring all Americans together. To think that discrimination of any kind will be condoned or tolerated in a Trump Administration is simply absurd,” Trump spokesman Jason Miller said.

This is worrisome because “ferreting out” LGBT “activists” can easily expand to the purging of LGBT employees.  Trump has a “complicated track record on LGTBQ issues” but given the people in his orbit, it is important to remember that in 1953, under the guise of national security, President Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10450 which expanded the grounds for dismissal to cover homosexuality. Under the guise of seeking “true international human rights” or something else, this could easily go from worrisome to alarming.

There’s a dark history of employee purges in the federal government, most especially at the State Department.  The National Archives notes that beginning in the late 1940s and continuing through the 1960s, thousands of gay employees were fired or forced to resign from the federal workforce because of their sexuality. Dubbed the Lavender Scare, this wave of repression was also bound up with anti-Communism and fueled by the power of congressional investigation.

According to the State Department, on February 28, 1950, in testimony before the subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Deputy Under Secretary for Administration John Peurifoy noted that 91 employees in the “shady category” had been dismissed since January 1, 1947. “When pressed to define this category, Peurifoy alluded to “moral weakness.” He seemed too hesitant to offer specifics, and the number of dismissals was too large for the matter to be easily dropped. Senator Styles Bridges (R-NH) pressed Peurifoy further, and the Deputy Under Secretary finally admitted that the category referred to homosexuals.”

Stay aware. Stay engage.

President Obama appointed gay ambassadors to Australia, Dominican Republic, Denmark, OSCE, Spain, and Vietnam. To say that these missions are in countries “culturally opposed to homosexuality” is false.  Among the six missions, only one has faced blatant, persistent bigotry and discrimination in his host country; that’s Ambassador Wally Brewster who is accredited to the Dominican Republic (see Pres. Obama’s Personal Representative Faces Anti-Gay Bigotry in the Dominican Republic.

The charge that pro-LGBT policies were advanced by LGBT “activists” in the State Department is simply ignorant of how the agency works. Advancing the rights of LGBT persons around the world is an Obama Administration policy. Career employees are required to support and defend it, as well as all other policies of the administration whether they agree with it or not (see On the Prospect of Mass Resignations: A Veteran FSO Cautions Against Rash Decisions).

The Foreign Service Act and appropriate personnel regulations require commitments from candidates for appointment to the Foreign Service to commit to three (3) conditions of employment — availability for worldwide assignment, willingness to accept out-of-function assignments, and observance of Foreign Service discipline with respect to public support of established United States policy.  “In the official performance of their duties as representatives of the United States Government, Foreign Service members may be called upon to support and defend policies with which they may not be personally in full agreement. On such occasions, normal standards of Foreign Service discipline will apply. Ample opportunity is provided within official channels for discussion and dissent with respect to the development and conduct of United States Foreign policy.” (See DS4146). Also see Joseph Cassidy’s Twelve Tips For Surviving Life In The New Foggy Bottom.

More clips below:

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Gay Men Allegedly Attacked Over #Orlando Condolence Photo Published by US Embassy Côte d’Ivoire

Posted: 3:50 am ET

Gay Ivorian men who signed the Orlando condolence book at the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan were reportedly attacked by an anti-gay mob after the embassy published a photo of them on the embassy’s website.   According to the AP, the embassy contacted three LGBT organizations but did not contact the men directly prior to putting the photo online. The embassy’s press officer reportedly told the AP that the embassy “deeply regrets that any individuals were attacked based on any kind of orientation they might have.”

She added that the embassy was in contact with the men and urged them to report the attacks to the police. Nonetheless, the photo was still up on the embassy’s website early Wednesday, with Ategou saying that there had been no request to remove it.

Waaaaaah!

Pardon us for that …

As of this writing, the photo no longer appears to be anywhere on the embassy’s website or on the Wayback Machine.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2015 | Cote d’Ivoire

Via State/DRL:

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

No law criminalizes homosexuality. The law’s only mention of same-sex sexual activity is as a form of public indecency that carries a penalty of up to two years’ imprisonment, the same prescribed for heterosexual acts performed in public. Antidiscrimination laws exist, but they do not address discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity (see section 7.d.).

Unlike in previous years, there were no reports of security forces beating, imprisoning, extorting, or humiliating members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community due to their sexual orientation. Law enforcement authorities were at times slow and ineffective in their response to societal violence targeting the LGBTI community. The few LGBTI organizations in the country operated freely but with caution.

There was no official discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, or access to education or health care. Nevertheless, societal stigmatization of the LGBTI community was widespread, and many members reported discrimination at health clinics, particularly when seeking treatment for sexually transmitted infections. Persons believed to be gay also faced societal discrimination in finding employment and housing.

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#OrlandoSolidarity: Flowers, Vigils, Condolences From Around the World

Posted: 1:46 am ET

 

The deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. since 9/11 occurred on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. The mass shooting which happened inside Pulse, a gay nightclub, is also the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in U.S. history to date. The casualties include 49 people dead and 53 wounded. The perpetrator, born and raised in New York to Afghan parents who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1980’s was killed in a shootout with the police . Below are some expressions of solidarity with Orlando, and the United States from around the world.

US Embassy Paris, France

US Embassy Berlin, Germany

US Embassy Prague, Czech Republic

US Embassy Moscow, Russia

US Embassy London, United Kingdom

US Embassy Warsaw, Poland

US Embassy Copenhagen, Denmark

US Embassy Bangkok, Thailand

US Embassy Vilnius, Lithuania

US Embassy Wellington, New Zealand

US Embassy Madrid, Spain

Islamabad, Pakistan

US Embassy New Delhi, India

US Embassy Oslo, Norway

Meanwhile —

In Moscow, two men who left flowers at the US Embassy in Moscow in memory of the Orlando victims were reportedly detained.

And in Jamaica–

Back in DC —

 

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USCG Shanghai Hanscom Smith Marries Taiwanese Partner Eric Lu

Posted: 1:46 am PT
Updated: 5:06 pm PT

 

According to USCG Shanghai, Hansom “Hanscom” Smith, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, has been Consul General at the United States Consulate General in Shanghai since September 2014. He previously served at the United States embassies in Yaounde, Copenhagen, Phnom Penh, Bangkok, Kabul, and Beijing. In addition, Mr. Smith has served in the Office of Japanese Affairs at the Department of State, and was team leader at the United States Provincial Reconstruction Team in Muthanna Province, Iraq. He has also worked at the American Institute in Taiwan. Mr. Smith holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and master’s degrees from the London School of Economics and Princeton University. His foreign languages are French, Danish, Khmer, and Mandarin Chinese.  CG Smith married his Taiwanese partner, Lü Yingzong (Eric Lu) in San Francisco.

 

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Xulhaz Mannan, LGBT Editor and Local Employee at US Mission Dhaka Brutally Murdered in Bangladesh

Posted: 5:07 pm ET
Updated: 6:20 pm ET
Updated: 6:37 pm ET
Updated: 10:04 pm ET

 

According to media reports, Xulhaz Mannanan employee of the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka (USAID) and the editor of Roopbaan, Bangladesh’s first ever LGBT magazine launched in 2014 was killed in his apartment along with another LGBT activist, Tanay Fahim, in a latest of the brutal machete attacks targeting academics and writers. Local news says that the assailants posed as courier service staff.

Xulhaz’s colleagues regarded him with special affection. He first joined the U.S. Embassy as a Protocol Specialist, serving for eight years in that capacity before joining USAID last September. In his role as a Project Management Assistant in the Democracy and Governance office, he worked tirelessly to support organizations focused on broadening and deepening political understanding throughout Bangladesh. Unsurprisingly, he also devoted extra time to building a more open and welcoming workplace, serving as a founding member of the U.S. Embassy Diversity Committee.

The US Embassy in Dhaka released the following statement via FB from Ambassador Bernicat:

I am devastated by the brutal murder of Xulhaz Mannan and another young Bangladeshi this evening in Dhaka. Xulhaz was more than a colleague to those of us fortunate to work with him at the U.S. Embassy. He was a dear friend. Our prayers are with Xulhaz, the other victim, and those injured in the attack. We abhor this senseless act of violence and urge the Government of Bangladesh in the strongest terms to apprehend the criminals behind these murders.

 

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Pres. Obama’s Personal Representative Faces Anti-Gay Bigotry in the Dominican Republic

Posted: 5:02 am ET

 

The NYT piece below notes that “the administration of President Danilo Medina, by remaining silent on the controversy, creates the impression that the government condones bigotry. That is a big mistake for a country that depends heavily on trade and tourism from the United States.”

In fact, Americans comprised the majority of the five million tourists who flocked to DR hotels and resorts in 2014, a figure that the Government of the Dominican Republic (GoDR) has vowed to double within 10 years according to export.gov. Ambassador Wally Brewster officially represents the United States of America, the Dominican Republic’s main trading partner, with $12.5 billion in total trade.

Beyond these, here’s something that the GoDR might want to think about while it is officially keeping its silence — Ambassador Brewster is President Obama’s personal representative to the Dominican Republic, and expected to reflect the views of this President and of this administration, including on the international initiatives to advance the human rights of LGBT persons. In short, Ambassador Brewster is not/not freelancing.  And based on President Obama’s memo, the ambassador is not/not on a secret crusade to “convert Santo Domingo into the Caribbean’s gay paradise.”

 

 

Related posts:

 

WH Petition: Latest Attack Against Wally Brewster, the US Ambassador to the Dominican Republic

Posted: 1:58 pm EDT
Updated: 5:16 pm EDT

 

An anonymous petition currently posted at the White House We The People portal is asking the Obama Administration “to remove the U.S. ambassador in the Dominican Republic, James W. Brewster for primarily promoting in his official duties an LGBT agenda inconsistent with the Christian cultural values and tradition of the Dominican Republic.” The petition has  above 25,000 signatures as of last night and needs over 74,000 by April 7, 2016 to reach the petition threshold which would then require an official response from the White House.

Screen Shot

And here is a counter petition supporting the ambassador.

Screen Shot

Maybe the White House can officially respond with this video:

The removal petition is just the latest in a series of attacks that Ambassador Brewster has faced since he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic in 2013.  After his nomination was announced, the AP reported that religious groups in the country said they are outraged by the nomination of a gay U.S. ambassador to the conservative Caribbean country.  DR Bishop Pablo Cedano was quoted in the media saying that if Brewster becomes the U.S. ambassador, “he is going to suffer and will have to leave.

After Ambassador Brewster’s arrival in country, a diplomatic event in honor of Dominican Republic president Danilo Medina was cancelled.  Ambassador Brewster’s husband was reportedly not invited to that event because he was not considered a “wife.” Consequently, several diplomats reportedly refused to attend and the event had to be “suspended.” (See Meanwhile in Santo Domingo: Ambassador Brewster’s Husband Not Invited ‘Cuz He’s Not a “Wife”).

This week, the Washington Blade reports:  Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez of the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo has repeatedly used anti-gay slurs to describe Brewster. A group of Dominican intellectuals and religious leaders in January urged President Danilo Medina and the Dominican Ministry of Foreign Affairs to declare the out U.S. ambassador as “persona non grata” because of a U.S.-backed initiative they contend seeks “to turn our adolescents gay.”

Yesterday, Senator  Dick Durbin (D-IL) tweeted his support saying Ambassador Brewster is “doing exceptional work under difficult circumstances.”  U.S. Ambassador to Chile Mike Hammer also tweeted his support:

Previously in January:

Last December:

Last year, Senator Durbin also wrote and appealed to the Pope about the hostile public remarks against Ambassador Brewster made by Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez of the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo:

Ambassador Brewster is from my state of Illinois and he is a personal friend.  I supported President Obama’s selection of Ambassador Brewster and he was sworn into his position in my Senate office.  Ambassador Brewster is gay and was married under the laws of the United States to his partner, Bob Satawake.

Even before Ambassador Brewster’s arrival in Santo Domingo in 2013, Cardinal Rodriguez launched a personal attack against him with public statements quoted in the popular press.  The Cardinal used the hateful slur “faggot,” which he continues to use to this day.  In a recent interview Cardinal Rodriguez again described the Ambassador as a “faggot” and falsely claimed the Ambassador was setting out to promote “faggotry” in the Dominican Republic.  The Cardinal described the Ambassador as a “wife” who “should stick to housework.”
[…]
The Church’s teachings on gay marriage are well known but the Church also teaches us to show tolerance for those with different sexual orientations.  The intolerant public statements of Cardinal Rodriguez are inconsistent with that clearly stated value.

Since your selection as Pope, you have shared a message of compassion, tolerance, and love.  I remember distinctly when you spoke to us at the joint session of Congress in September and reminded us of our responsibility to “defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good.”

This can’t be easy for Ambassador Brewster, his husband or the mission.

These persistent attacks are hard to watch but imagine what it must be like for LGBT members in DR and in many parts of the world.

A Dominican LGBT rights advocate told the Blade, “This is only a reflection of the homophobia that continues to exist in this country,” Ramírez told the Blade. “If this is what the ambassador of the United States is facing, you can only imagine what common GLBT people who don’t have a political agenda are up against.” 

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US Embassy Denmark: A Wedding in Copenhagen

Posted: 1:52 am EDT

 

Congratulations and best wishes to U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Rufus Gifford and Dr. Stephen DeVincent on their wedding at Copenhagen City Hall on October 10. A collection of tweets below with some photos:

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SCOTUS Rules Same-Sex Marriage Is a Right, See Round-Up of US Embassies on LGBT Pride Month

Posted: 9:27 am PDT

 

SCOTUS ruled today in a 5-4 decision that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. Justice Kennedy said gay and lesbian couples had a fundamental right to marry. Excerpt from the majority opinion written by Justice Kennedy (via NYT):

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family,” he wrote. “In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”

“It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage,” Justice Kennedy said of the couples challenging state bans on same-sex marriage. “Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

The case is Obergefell v. Hodges.  Read the SCOTUS opinion here (pdf). Sending hugs to our friends in the LGBT community this beautiful and historic summer day!

Below is a round-up of U.S. embassies marking LGBT Pride Month this year:

Nicosia, Cyprus

Wellington, New Zealand


Manila , Philippines

Ankara, Turkey

Tel Aviv, Israel

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Buenos Aires, Argentina


Luxembourg

 

Tokyo, Japan 

 

London, United Kingdom

Meanwhile, in Amman, Jordan

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