Organization

Overview

glifaa is a non-profit, voluntary, membership organization with no paid staff or officials.

Our membership consists primarily of personnel and family from the Department of State, USAID, Foreign Commercial Service, Foreign Agricultural Service, Peace Corps, and other federal offices and agencies with foreign affairs components.  A Board of Directors elected by the membership annually directs and carries out most of glifaa’s work.  They are aided by a network of Post Representatives in most U.S. embassies and missions abroad and in State Department offices in the U.S. beyond Washington, D.C.

Mission

Proudly advancing diversity and equity in U.S. foreign affairs agencies and promoting LGBT human rights around the world 

glifaa works to secure fair treatment of LGBT colleagues in the United States and overseas.  For Foreign Service, Civil Service, contract or other employees, we act to break down barriers resulting from prejudice, misunderstanding or apathy within our institutions.  We provide a support network and information resources for employees and retirees and their families.  As foreign policy professionals, we support LGBT people struggling against discrimination and persecution abroad.  We also engage with partner organizations in the U.S. and internationally to advance all these goals.

Activities

glifaa engages continually with Washington officials on issues concerning our members. 

We hold general meetings every month to consult and update the membership.  Monthly happy hours provide networking opportunities bringing together our members and people from like-minded organizations.  Other activities include Pride Month, our annual “Pink Party,” participation in seminars and briefings and organizing  film and speaker events.

Issues

Current areas of focus include the following:

  • Protecting rights of all LGBT+ members;
  • Accreditation for the LGBT+ families serving abroad;
  • Protection and promotion of equality for the Foreign Service National/Third Country National/Locally Employed LGBT+ staff; and
  • Development and effective implementation of LGBT+ training for all member agencies.

History

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.

Click here for more on the history of glifaa.