Dear glifaa members,
Happy New Year! On December 13, 2022 I had the opportunity to witness history unfold at the White House as President Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law. In his remarks, the president said that this event was “about realizing the promise of the Declaration of Independence — a promise rooted in the sacred and secular beliefs; a promise that we’re all created equal, we’re all entitled to what Abraham Lincoln called ‘an open field and a fair chance’…there’s nothing more decent, more dignified, and more American [than]… what we’re doing here today. It’s about who we are as a nation. It’s about the substance of our laws. It’s about being true to the best of the soul of America. Decency. Dignity. Love.”
As members of the foreign affairs community, we represent the soul of America to the world. Our priority issues as an organization — accreditation for our spouses and expanding access to LGBTQIA+ healthcare — exist so that we can safely and effectively represent that soul of America anywhere in the world in the same way that our opposite sex colleagues and their families can. We aren’t asking for special treatment. We are asking for fairness and “an open field and a fair chance” at a full career, whether that be in the civil service or foreign service. We are asking for a safe work environment where we are treated with dignity and respect.
For 30 years, glifaa has fought for LGBTQIA+ employees in the foreign affairs agencies and much progress has been made. Our board engages the Department on these priority issues weekly. Since taking office in October, we have met with many GTM offices, S/ODI, the Special Envoy for LGBTI+ Rights, M Staff, OFM, regional bureaus, and others. We have expanded our interagency outreach to seek points of collaboration where our interests overlap, and we’ve engaged with counterparts from partner nations facing similar challenges to determine where we could combine efforts. Similarly, we have partnered with other employee organizations to advance initiatives of mutual benefit. I was honored to attend the Pickering and Rangel Foundation Association’s annual gala as a senior Department official in my capacity as glifaa’s president. The challenges we face in glifaa mirror many of the challenges faced by our PRFA colleagues. We also continue to do member advocacy and urge you to reach out to us if we can be of assistance. You will be receiving a survey shortly asking for your input as we examine our priority issues. Data drives decision making, so the more we hear from you and the more of you we hear from, the more effective we will be as advocates for our community. Please take the time to fill it out.
Vice President Harris quoted Harvey Milk in her remarks, when she said “Rights are won only by those who make their voices heard.” We are honored to be your voice within the foreign affairs community and we look forward to an exciting 2023 during which we will continue our efforts to get our voices heard.
glifaa: LGBT+ Pride in Foreign Affairs Agencies