In full transparency, the following is a media release from Sen. Ed Markey , who was elected by voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to serve the state in Washington DC in the US Senate. He is a Democrat. (file photo)
WASHINGTON DC – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass) and Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today applauded the White House’s announcement that President Joseph R. Biden has appointed OutRight Action International Executive Director Jessica Stern as the State Department Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons.
“I applaud the Biden administration’s announcement of Jessica Stern as the new Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons, as our celebration of Pride Month draws to a close and we mark the sixth anniversary since the landmark Obergefell ruling that granted all Americans the freedom to marry,” said Senator Markey. “Jessica brings deep experience to this job given her lifelong dedication to LGBTQI+ issues and her leadership as the Executive Director of OutRight Action International. With Jessica at the helm, the United States will energetically prioritize the need to protect LGBTQI+ rights as fundamental human rights around the world. I once again urge the Administration to elevate this position to the rank of Ambassador to affirm to the world that America’s defense of LGBTQI+ rights will be a focal point of its human rights agenda. Congress should immediately take up and pass my and Congressman Lowenthal’s International Human Rights Defense Act so we can make sure the LGBTQI+ Special Envoy is maintained permanently in the future.”
“I am tremendously pleased by the appointment of Jessica Stern as the new special envoy,” said Congressman Lowenthal. “She brings to the position not only her professional experience as an internationally known and respected champion of LGBTOI+ rights and equality, but also her profound understanding of the issues of gender, sexuality, and human rights globally. Her appointment is a major step toward assuring that we as a nation serve as a beacon to the rest of the world by promoting our fundamental values of equality, equity, and diversity, especially at a time when the basic human rights of so many people across the globe are being threatened. I have no doubt that Ms. Stern will play a major part in guaranteeing our nation’s foreign policy role in defending the innate rights of all human being throughout the world to live, love, and prosper.”
Nearly 70 nations around the world have enacted laws that criminalize homosexuality. Abuses in Chechnya, Tanzania, Uganda, and elsewhere demonstrate a continued threat posed to the fundamental rights of LGBTQI+ communities in every region of the world.
At the urging of Senator Markey and Congressman Lowenthal, then-Secretary of State John Kerry first appointed a special envoy for LGBTQI+ rights in 2015. The position went vacant throughout the Trump Administration – despite promises to Congress by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to fill it. Senator Markey and Congressman Lowenthal have introduced the International Human Rights Defense Act, which would make this special envoy position permanent.
The special envoy is tasked with helping to advance five key diplomatic objectives of the Biden Administration foreign policy, including combating the criminalization of LGBTQI+ status or conduct abroad; protecting vulnerable LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers; leveraging foreign assistance to protect human rights and advance nondiscrimination; enacting swift and meaningful U.S. responses to human rights abuses of LGBTOI+ persons abroad; and, building coalitions of like-minded nations and engaging international organizations in the fight against LGBTQI+ discrimination