Showing posts with label State Dept.. Show all posts
Showing posts with label State Dept.. Show all posts

January 9, 2017

Secretary Kerry Apologizes for Past Years of Anti Gay Policies


On behalf of the U.S. State Department, John Kerry has issued a formal apology for the department's pattern of discrimination against LGBT employees during a period beginning in the 1940s and stretching for decades.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., had asked the secretary of state for such an apology in late November, calling the historical discrimination "un-American and unacceptable."

The Washington Blade reported on Cardin's request in early December, noting at the time that the State Department said it was preparing a response.

The mass purge of gay staffers during the mid-20th century was known as the "Lavender Scare," which coincided with the "Red Scare."

Eric Berkowitz, Author of 'The Boundaries Of Desire,' Discusses Laws On Sex And Sexuality

Author Eric Berkowitz, speaking to Terry Gross on Fresh Air in 2015, said the systematic discrimination against gay people in that era has "gotten short shrift in the popular imagination."

At the same time as the persecution of alleged communists, "there was no less energetic a hunt to root out what were called 'perverts' ... from the federal government," he said.

And it started in the State Department, explains David Johnson, the author of The Lavender Scare. He says that in the '40s, the State Department was already systematically firing gay employees.

Then, in 1950, Joseph McCarthy claimed to have a list of communists in the State Department. In an attempt to defend itself against the charges, the department pointed out that it was working hard to expel "subversives" — by firing gay people. That disclosure kicked off the wider "Lavender Scare."

"The purges begin in the State Department," Johnson says. "And then in the politicized atmosphere of McCarthyism, they doubled down."
In 1953, years after the State Department began firing gay employees, Dwight Eisenhower instituted a nationwide ban on gay men and lesbians working for the federal government. Purges lasted for decades. Careers were destroyed, and some employees committed suicide, Johnson says.

Cardin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, wrote to Kerry on Nov. 29 to ask that in his last months as secretary of state, he address that history.

Cardin said that more than 1,000 people were dismissed from the Department of State for their alleged sexual orientation, and "many more" prevented from joining the department through discriminatory hiring practices. As recently as the 1990s, he said, the State Department drove out personnel thought to be gay, calling them "security risks."

Cardin urged Kerry to acknowledge the discrimination, apologize for it — and perhaps install an exhibit about it at the State Department's museum.

"Of course, the measures we take today cannot bring back years of anguish or erase decades of institutionalized homophobia, but we can ensure that such injustices levied against the LGBT community are never repeated again," Cardin said in a statement in early December.

Kerry responded with a statement released Monday. He began by highlighting the State Department's recent support for LGBT and intersex employees. Then he wrote:

"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."
Human Rights Campaign Government Affairs Director David Stacy said in a statement that "although it is not possible to undo the damage that was done decades ago, Secretary Kerry's apology sets the right tone for the State Department as it enters a new and uncertain time in our country under a new administration."

But David Johnson, a history professor at the University of South Florida and the author of The Lavender Scare, says that while the apology is welcome and overdue, Kerry's statement misrepresents the State Department's role in the purge.

"The apology made it sound like the State Department was just one of many institutions that was discriminating against gay men and lesbians ... that it was just sort of run-of-the-mill 1950s anti-gay discrimination," he says.

“In fact, the State Department was unique in its level of homophobia," he says.

December 22, 2016

W.H.Transition Team Asks for List of Jobs Promoting Gender Equality, Worrying Some

 Hillary Clinton brainchild gender equality employment at the State Dept.

 President-elect Donald J. Trump’s transition team asked the State Department this week to submit details of programs and jobs aimed at promoting gender equality, rattling State Department employees concerned that the incoming administration will roll back a cornerstone project of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The one-page memo, a copy of which was provided to The New York Times on Thursday, directed employees to outline “existing programs and activities to promote gender equality, such as ending gender-based violence, promoting women’s participation in economic and political spheres, entrepreneurship, etc.”

It also requested a list of positions “whose primary functions are to promote such issues” — though not the names of people in those positions — as well as how much funding was directed to gender-related programs in the 2016 fiscal year.

The wording of the memo is neutral and does not hint at any policy change. Nevertheless, some State Department employees took note of the reference to “gender-related staffing,” which they said could also refer to programs focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, though the memo did not refer specifically to them.

The memo is reminiscent of one the transition team sent recently to the Energy Department, which asked for the names of people who had worked on climate change or attended global climate talks organized by the United Nations within the past five years. That more detailed questionnaire, on the heels of Mr. Trump’s appointment of a climate change denialist to head the Environmental Protection Agency, sowed fears that the Trump administration would purge anyone involved in trying to curb the effects of climate change.

The latest request drew expressions of concern from advocacy groups and some on Capitol Hill.

“The transition team should clarify their intent,” Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, said in a statement. “I can promise that if the next administration intends to roll back programs designed to lift women up, it will very quickly meet stiff opposition in the Senate.”

The Trump transition team declined a request for comment on the latest memo. A person answering the phone in the State Department transition office directed inquiries to the public affairs office, which declined to confirm the existence of the memo or to discuss specific information being sought by Mr. Trump’s team.

After a slow start, the transition team is accelerating its work to staff the State Department, sending memos requesting a range of information from the rank and file. Among the issues it asked about is the department’s antiterrorism initiative, Countering Violent Extremism.

Mr. Trump has made the fight against the Islamic State central to his foreign policy and has railed against what he said was President Obama’s refusal to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism.” The transition team’s questions have led some in the department to assume that, at a minimum, the program will be renamed Countering Islamic Extremism.

Transition officials are said to be concerned about how many senior jobs in the department will be vacated by departing political appointees. They asked whether there would be anyone to show the secretary of state-designate, Rex W. Tillerson, around his office.

On Wednesday, the State Department press secretary, John Kirby, told reporters that in general terms, the information being sought by Mr. Trump’s team was not out of the ordinary.

Excerpts from the New York Times

December 14, 2016

Exxon Was Not a Gay Friendly Company Before and During Rex Tillerson

 Rex Tillerson

 The Senate should take a hard look at ExxonMobil's record on gay rights when it considers the nomination of Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, a leading advocacy organization says.

The Human Rights Campaign, which ranks corporations on how they treat LGBTQ employees, has consistently given Exxon poor grades. Tillerson is the CEO and has worked at the company for most of his adult life.

"Rex Tillerson's nomination raises critical questions as to how a Trump administration plans to protect LGBTQ employees and contractors affiliated with the State Department, and ultimately whether it will continue American efforts to advance equality through U.S. foreign policy," HRC president Chad Griffin said in a statement.

On Tuesday, President-elect Donald Trump said he would nominate Tillerson to be the nation's top diplomat. The Senate debate over his confirmation is expected to focus on Tillerson's ties to Russia. Some Republicans have already voiced reservations.

But Exxon's history on gay rights also may come up.

When Exxon merged with Mobil in 1999, it eliminated Mobil's domestic partner benefits for gay and lesbian employees and removed a policy preventing discrimination on the basis on sexual orientation, according to HRC. At the time, Tillerson was a senior executive responsible for the company's operations in Russia.

When the Human Rights Campaign launched its Corporate Equality Index in 2002, Exxon received a score of 14%. The survey rates companies on policies, benefits and practices for LGBTQ employees and their families.

Tillerson, now 64, became chief executive in 2006. That year, the index changed its criteria, and Exxon's score went down to 0%.

Since Tillerson took over, ExxonMobil has slowly made improvements -- though that may have more to do with federal policy changes than moral leadership.

In 2013, Exxon reintroduced health coverage for the same-sex spouses of its employees. The change came after the Treasury Department ruled that legally married same-sex couples should be considered married for federal tax purposes.

"The decision is consistent with the direction of most U.S. government agencies," ExxonMobil said in a statement at the time. "We have made no change in the definition of eligibility for our U.S. benefit plans. Spousal eligibility in our U.S. benefit plans has been and continues to be governed by the federal definition of marriage and spouse."

The company adjusted its anti-discrimination policy in 2015 to include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the Human Rights Campaign. That revision followed President Obama's 2014 executive order requiring federal contractors to protect LGBTQ workers against discrimination. Exxon regularly contracts with the U.S. government.

Some shareholders had been pushing since 1999 for Exxon to expand the anti-discrimination policy. New York's retirement fund for state employees filed a request every year starting in 2001.

The company consistently opposed those proposals, calling them unnecessary. Shareholders voted them down until Exxon changed its policy to conform to the executive order in 2015.

Exxon says it has always barred discrimination against LGBTQ individuals.

"ExxonMobil does not discriminate, will not discriminate, and has not discriminated against members of the LGBT community. Period," former vice president for public affairs Ken Cohen wrote in a 2014 company blog post.

The company did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

The Human Rights Campaign now gives ExxonMobil an 85% rating on its Corporate Equality Index. It's an improvement, but the company still falls behind Walmart, Chevron, Apple and the 514 other businesses that earned a 100% score in the 2017 report.

Exxon’s score was docked because its guidelines on philanthropy permit donations to non-religious organizations that discriminate against LGBTQ people, and because its anti-discrimination policy only covers LGBTQ employees in the U.S.


December 13, 2016

Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State and His Background

 U.S. Republican President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday formally announced Exxon-Mobil Corp chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson as his nomination to serve as U.S. secretary of state.
To those that think that Mr. Rex will have a tough time in Congress I will dare say that he will be confirmed. The only caveat is what comes out of the investigation on Putin and his hand on the American Presidential Election.

November 12, 2015

Pope Meets with USGay Envoy from State the Vatican


The encounter took place in a non-descript room at the Vatican, and conversation stuck to regular diplomatic briefs. But for the parties involved on Tuesday morning, the meeting held historic significance: Randy Berry, the first-ever U.S. Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI persons, and Vatican officials from the Holy See’s Secretary of State office were meeting for the first time.

The moment, simple as it was, marked a new level of U.S. engagement with the Catholic Church on LGBT human rights issues. Berry told TIME he met with officials for about an hour, and he met separately with representatives from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. For both sides, the conversations were new.

President Barack Obama only created Berry’s position at the State Department in April, and until now, Berry has primarily only talked with faith leaders in the field, as he has traveled to 30 countries in the last seven months. He met with evangelical congregations in Jamaica when he visited in May, for example. Conversations about LGBT human rights have never before reached this level with the Catholic Church, which considers gay and lesbian sexual behavior a sin and restricts marriage to unions of one man and one woman. 

Berry’s focus however is not on marriage, but on the twin foreign policy issues of violence and discrimination. That strategy, Berry hopes, allows for common ground with the Vatican to stand together against extreme violence. “We were not there to talk about issues of civil unions or same sex marriage, for example, because that is not part of our policy,” Berry says. “That is not part of the conversation we were interested in engaging in, nor do I think were they.”

Berry requested the Vatican meeting as part of his three-week trip to Eastern Europe, which has included visits to five countries and a stop in Athens for the annual conference for ILGA, an international lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex rights association. Church officials accepted. “I wanted a chance to brief Vatican officials myself,” Berry says. “These issues of violence and extreme discrimination are of concern to us all.”

The meeting is particularly noteworthy ahead of Pope Francis’ visit to Uganda at the end of the month, where homosexuality is illegal. When Uganda introduced a law last year that further criminalized homosexuality with extensive prison sentences, Western powers including the U.S. pushed back, while local Catholic leaders had mixed responses. Courts eventually struck the measure down, but hundreds of gay Ugandans have since fled to Kenya, where homosexuality is also illegal and where Pope Francis also plans a visit during his trip to central Africa.

Berry says he spent time in “listening mode” to learn from officials about how Pope Francis engages on human rights issues when he travels. He remembers how a gay rights activist was included when a large group of political activists met with Pope Francis in Paraguay this summer. “That inclusive approach speaks volumes,” Berry says. “I would hope that certainly those same messages are shared, and I fully expect that they will be because I think they are completely consistent with what we’ve seen from His Holiness in the past.”

The fact that the meeting even happened is revealing. It is a sign that the Obama administration sees future opportunity to work with the Vatican after the Pope’s September visit, with the possibility to build on the partnership they have strengthened on climate change and migration. It is also a sign that Vatican diplomatic efforts are willing to take certain amount of risk by talking with the U.S. on this issue, as any LGBT issues thrusts the Church into an often conflicted spotlight. Pope Francis has continued to advocate dialogue and listening to a range of perspectives even as he has ramped up the Vatican’s diplomatic activism, and the U.S. State Department continues to take note and look for opportunities to engage.

Discussion of any concrete collaboration with the Vatican would be premature, however. For now, Berry hopes to further common ground and expand contacts for future conversations. “It was an important first dialogue and I hope that we will continue,” Berry says. “I get to do a lot of really amazing things in this job,” he continues. “It was quite a positive experience.”

June 19, 2014

Gay Married Ambassador to the Dominican Republic tapes Pride Message


In this video US Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James Brewster appears with his husband
Bob Satawake to celebrate pride.

I remember when President Obama nominated the ambassador. The republicans in congress were in  an uproar saying how could the US humiliate itself appointing a gay ambassador to the Caribbean nation. If it wasn’t because the democrats control the senate, Im not sure that this man would have been approved to become ambassador by the senate.

It is our pride to have this ambassador and his husband serve as an example to the homophobic caribbean that gay married or non married man are as good as the coconut milk their palm trees produce. “Co-co rico” (rich coconut)

August 4, 2013

The US Will Extend Same Visa to Gays as Straights

The US will now extend the same visa privileges worldwide to gay married couples as to heterosexual spouses, Secretary of State John Kerry has said.
Speaking at the US embassy in London, Mr Kerry announced such applications would all be "treated equally".
The move comes just over a month after the US Supreme Court struck down a key part of a law that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
The Obama administration ordered federal agencies to comply.
Speaking shortly after his arrival in London, Mr Kerry said: "When same-sex couples apply for a visa, the Department of State will consider that application in the same manner that it considers the application of opposite sex spouses.
"If you are the spouse of a US citizen, your visa application will be treated equally. If you are the spouse of a non-citizen, your visa application will be treated equally.
"If you are in a country that doesn't recognise your same-sex marriage, then your visa application will still be treated equally at every single one of our 222 visa processing centres around the world," he added.
Last month, the US immigration agency announced it would begin considering applications filed in the US on behalf of same-sex spouses the same way as those for spouses in heterosexual marriages.

July 20, 2013

Ex CIA Chief Who Detained and Tortured Egyptian Innocent Doctor } USA Allows Him to Escape back to US } Same Justice for Snowden? NO Way

Cases like this is what makes me sick when I watch or hear an official of the uS many times the President preaching about the rule of International law. What Law? I depends how strong you are and crime or no crime does not matter just the politics in the case if the public is aware of the case.If the public is not aware then expediency and secrecy takes over.      {Adam}
Panama on Friday allowed a retired CIA station chief wanted in Italy for his role in the 2003 abduction of an Egyptian Muslim cleric to leave for the United States, permitting the former U.S. intelligence agent to avoid an Italian jail cell.
Robert Seldon Lady, the former CIA station chief in Milan, had been arrested earlier in the week as he attempted to cross into Costa Rica from Panama.
Panama offered no explanation for its decision to authorize Lady’s release, but Italy’s foreign ministry said it respected Panama’s action in a sign that none of the countries involved cared to reopen one of the most controversial incidents of the Bush administration’s prosecution of its war against terrorism following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“It’s my understanding that he is in fact either en route or back in the United States,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said at a daily briefing in Washington.
Lady, 59, was convicted along with 22 others for the abduction of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, an Egyptian cleric who U.S. officials said was recruiting radical Muslims for jihad in the Middle East. Nasr, widely known as Abu Omar, later turned up in an Egyptian prison, where his lawyer said he’d been repeatedly tortured.
Lady’s detention brought to the fore an issue that leaders in both Italy and the United States had sought to keep out of the limelight.
“It’s a sensitive issue, and it is a source of embarrassment to the two countries. We cooperate on all kinds of things,” said Michael Calingaert, a visiting scholar and expert on U.S.-Italian relations at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.
Late last year, Italy’s top appeals court upheld a nine-year sentence for Lady, although if he were to return to Italy a sentence reduction would mean he would only serve six years.
Italian prosecutors _ who built their case around triangulated cellphone signals, an Italian CIA asset who helped carry out the kidnapping, and other extensive evidence to lay bare the U.S.-led abduction _ said they were not surprised that Lady would escape from Panama to the United States.
The U.S. government seeks to keep active and retired CIA agents out of foreign jails and will “exert pressure in all directions to make sure that does not happen,” Milan prosecutor Ferdinando Pomarici said Friday, according to the Italian ANSA news agency.
Lady, who abandoned a retirement home near the Italian Alps and fled Italy before his conviction, has apparently been crossing several international boundaries while on the lam.
He appeared at Paso Canoas, a jungle-strewn crossing at the border between Costa Rica and Panama, at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, said Andrea Quesada Villalobos, spokeswoman for the Costa Rican Migration Department.
“When his information was put into the system, an Interpol alert appeared for us, a red alert, so we immediately contacted the Costa Rican Interpol office,” Quesada said, referring to the international criminal police body designed to track down criminals fleeing from country to country.
“The Interpol agent said that we couldn’t detain him in Costa Rica, so what we did was deny him entry and return him to the Panamanian immigration office,” she said.
Quesada said Lady arrived on foot and alone, and was handed off to Panamanian authorities.
Panama and Italy do not have an extradition treaty.
In contrast, the United States and Panama maintain close security ties developed last century when a U.S. military presence guarded the Panama Canal that divides the country. The U.S. government returned the canal to full Panamanian control in 1999.
In a sign of that cooperation, Panama last weekend impounded a North Korean ship and discovered hidden weapons aboard buried under bags of brown sugar. Cuba later claimed ownership of the weapons, including two MiG-21 fighters, nine disassembled rockets and 15 MiG engines, saying they were old and to be refurbished in North Korea.
Other factors also might have played into the decision. Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli has had a troubled relationship with Italian prosecutors, who are investigating whether a huge Italian defense firm, Finmeccanica, paid bribes to the Panamanian government for the purchase of helicopters, radar systems and the construction of prisons. Martinelli, who has an Italian passport and was close to former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, has denied any graft offer. No contract was ever signed.
The extent of the secret U.S. policy of abducting terror suspects and moving them from one country to another, a process known as extraordinary rendition, has never been fully revealed.
In February, the Open Society Justice Initiative, a liberal advocacy group, published a report saying 54 foreign governments had collaborated with the CIA to abduct and move at least 136 known victims, usually to third countries where torture would be freely used during interrogations.
Nasr, who had lived in Yemen prior to moving to Italy, spent four years in an Egyptian prison but was never charged with a crime. His attorney said that he lost partial sight in one eye because of abuse by his Egyptian jailers.
Attorney General Eric Holder said in August 2009 that the U.S. government would not abandon the practice of rendition but would seek assurances from the receiving nations that they would not employ torture.
McClatchy national security correspondent Jonathan S. Landay contributed to this report.
Email:; Twitter: @timjohnson4

June 12, 2013

Good and Bad News from State Sec Kerry } Trying to Save the Arab Gays and the Arabs that will Kill the Gays

Fairness comes in a jar of beverage and stupidity comes in the same type of beverage, You have to smart enough which is is bitter and which one is sweet. The best way to accomplish the way of knowing which is which is to drink a little of both and bingo you know. Some people are in to the bitter beverage (Jesus Christ was at one time)
and Jews on Passover, others. But most people will only drink one or the other. Just because one is bitter it dies not means that it has no friends and drinkers. We have found a man that seem to like both, The problem is that the bitter one if taken with the sweet one will destroy the sweeter one because of it’s potency. It also carries a name brand established throwout the centuries. If you raelly want the sweet one to survive you will have to reduced the bitterness to a very low content on the bitter one or just put in a shelf to see if gets water down.
Secretary of State Kerry, a friend of gays as he says by he does not know about this story I just gave you.You see, He is trying to save the Muslim and the muslim will kill like they are doing their gay populations.  Sometimes is better to have an enemy that is fair that a friend that is stupid.
But heyGood news gay people, Secretary of State John Kerry supports your right to be gay. Bad news gay people, Secretary of State John Kerry also supports the right of Islamists to kill you for being gay.
{{Adam for adamfoxie}}
By  below:
In what is probably a first, an oddly uncomfortable John Kerry gets in front of the camera to deliver a Happy Gay Pride Day message. You can see him furrowing his brow as he tries to remember what the B in LGBT stands for.
“There are LGBT people of all ages, all races, and all faiths – citizens of every country on Earth.  And in too many places, LGBT people and their supporters are being attacked and harassed for simply being who they are and for standing up for their rights,” Kerry says, seemingly unaware of the irony that Obama Inc. has managed to put regimes who do just that in power across the Middle East.
You can promote the rights of Islamists to democratically take over countries or the rights of gay people. But you cannot honestly do both.
“The United States condemns all such violence, harassment, and discrimination.  As President Obama said, “the struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States’ commitment to promoting human rights,” Kerry tells us.
Apparently though it’s less central than throwing a hissy fit over fights between Burmese Buddhists and Muslim migrants because you sure don’t hear a lot about it.
“LGBT persons must be free to exercise their human rights – including freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly and association – without fear of reprisal,” Kerry says.
Freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly and association – without fear of reprisal. Sounds nice. Too bad those aren’t even rights that any Americans have anymore.

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