In 1992, State Department employees formed glifaa to challenge a security clearance process that persecuted lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees. From that risky start, membership and activities grew until glifaa won official recognition as the voice of LGBT personnel in U.S. foreign affairs agencies. In 1998 President Clinton issued an executive order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in the federal civilian workforce. In 2002, senior State Department and USAID officials helped commemorate our 10th anniversary and in 2003 we held our first meeting with a Secretary of State, Colin Powell.
Subsequent years saw partnering with activists like Judy and Dennis Shepherd (parents of Matthew Shepherd), members of Congress, journalists, think-tankers and colleagues in the military and other agencies to counter discrimination. In 2009 Secretary of State Hilary Clinton established personnel policies to protect and support LGBT staff and their spouses as much as current U.S. law allowed. In 2010, Congress repealed the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Meanwhile, U.S. human rights policy increasingly addressed treatment of sexual minorities with the mantra “gay rights are human rights” becoming a cornerstone of U.S. policy. In 2010, in large part due to advocacy from glifaa, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton added gender identity to the Department of State’s Statement on Discriminatory and Sexual Harassment and EEO Policy. USAID and other foreign affairs agencies followed suit shortly thereafter. 2012 saw glifaa’s 20th anniversary celebration followed by momentum from the Supreme Court’s 2013 “Windsor” decision on same-sex marriage, with multiple implications for employee benefits and overseas assignments.
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