Thursday, June 30, 2011


For all of you said little prayers, thought good thoughts, sent positive vibes (especially the Fairy Vibes...thanks Tom!), pressed or held thumbs, crossed fingers and toes, or asked the universe to be kind...

Thanks! You did it!

I am now professionally proficient in Estonian.

I actually thought I had blown it.

I was convinced that had screwed up the reading portion. The reading portion has two parts. In the first, you have six minutes to give the gist of six short articles. Based on how you do with those, they give you two long articles to read.

I had some trouble with the gisting. And I thought the articles they gave me were fairly easy.

So I assumed that meant that they had given me easier articles...meaning articles that would not get me a high enough score.

I even texted my wife that I had a bad feeling.

But alas...something worked. The examiner seemed surprised when I said I thought I screwed up the reading...she thought I did well. She said I had a broad vocabulary and was very fluent too. Yay!

Also a yay...checking a senior foreign service "box." You now have to get a 3/3 in a hard language at some point in your career to cross the SFS threshhold. I don't actually expect to make Senior Foreign Service...I just want to have a fun career in cool places and get to retire with my pension. But I don't want to be excluded from it.

So now I can relax...because I have three years to reach my self-inflicted goal of a 4/4 (professional fluency).

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The End Is Near

The End begins in 24 hours and 15 minutes.

That is when my language test starts.

I am nervous. With Hebrew, it was easy. Aside from the fact that Hebrew is a much easier language, I only needed a 2/2. And I knew from my progress tests that the only question was how much higher than that would I get.

Not so this time.

First, Estonian is HARD! Really freakin' hard.

AND, I need a 3/3.

Worst case scenario is that I fall short...then I get extended in language for a few more weeks and retest. Given that my wife will be here until late January, that isn't such a bad thing.

Even so, I really hate to fail.

So here is where I ask you for a favor. Could you all please please please send me as many positive thoughts and prayers as you can? Cross your fingers and toes, hold or press your thumbs, or whatever your personal means of attracting good things from the universe.

I need it. And I would appreciate it!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Last Area Studies

You thought I forgot, right?

So Thursday was our last area studies. A larger number than I expected showed up, I suspect so they could fill out the course evaluations.

The professor told us there was an 800-word limit per question when he saw how much we were writing...of course, he wasn't actually supposed to be in the room watching us fill out the evaluations. He didn't leave until everyone had turned theirs in.

Not cool.

At least he did not make us watch a Woody Allen film (Death and Love, I think)...instead we watched The Pianist.

Yep...another least on topic (Poland)....but on the week before most of us have our final tests.

Yes, really.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Video: Secretary Clinton at Pride Event

Transcripts of Secretary Clinton's Remarks for Pride

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

At an event co-hosted by the Department of State and Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA) in celebration of LGBT Pride Month

June 27, 2011
Dean Acheson Auditorium
Washington, D.C.

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Applause.) Thank you all. Thank you. Thank you all very much. Thank you.

Well, this is an especially momentous and extraordinary time for us to meet for the State Department’s annual Pride celebration, the third event we’ve had here at State since I became Secretary, and the first following the historic vote in New York, which I think gives such visibility and credibility to everything that so many of you have done over so many years, because I look out at this audience and I see a lot of familiar faces of people who have been on the frontlines for many years and have worked so diligently and smartly for the progress that we are seeing.

I do want to recognize, in addition to John, Patrick, and Arturo, who have already been mentioned, Under Secretary Otero and Assistant Secretary Posner and USAID Deputy Director Steinberg and Deputy Assistant Secretary Baer and all who have led our efforts, including Counselor Mills, to protect the rights and well-being of LGBT people worldwide. And I thank Jon Tollefson and GLIFAA for being an invaluable partner in coordinating personnel and policy matters here at State. I’m very honored to receive this award. It really belongs to all of you and so many others in recognition of the work that we’ve had the opportunity to do together to advance equality around the world.

It is an inspiration, however, to keep working, because we have a long way to go toward a world that affords all people the respect, dignity, and equality that they are entitled to. So in that vein, I wanted to share just a few stories from the past year that I hope will keep us going because they are stories of perseverance and creativity by our Foreign Service officers and civil servants who are representing the United States.

In Honduras, as many of you know, anti-gay violence increased significantly in 2009 and 2010. More than 30 LGBT people were murdered and the investigations into those crimes appeared to be going nowhere. Then our Embassy team got involved. They publicly called on the Honduran Government to solve the murders, bring the perpetrators to justice, do more to protect all Hondurans from harm. Soon after, the government announced it was creating a taskforce to investigate and prevent hate crimes. And with the help of a United States prosecutor and detective, which our Embassy arranged to be made available to assist in this effort, we are making progress. And I particularly want to thank and recognize Assistant Secretary Valenzuela, because it was his leadership on this issue that really made a difference.

In Slovakia, the country’s first-ever Pride parade last year ended in violence. So this year, our Embassy staff worked overtime to help make the parade a success. They brought together more than 20 chiefs of mission from other nations to sign a public statement of support for the march. They hosted a respectful, productive debate on LGBT rights. And on the day of the parade, our ambassador marched in solidarity right next to the mayor of Bratislava.

And then there is the work that our Embassy team in Rome has been doing. Two weeks ago, they played an instrumental role in bringing Lady Gaga to Italy for a EuroPride concert. (Laughter.) Now, as many of you know, Lady Gaga is Italian American and a strong supporter of LGBT rights. And the organizers of the EuroPride event desperately wanted her to perform, and a letter to her from Ambassador Thorne was instrumental in sealing the deal. Over 1 million people attended the event, which included powerful words in support of equality and justice.

And then there is the tremendous work that our diplomats have been doing in regional and international institutions to strengthen a shared consensus about how governments should treat their citizens. And we’ve made the message very consistent and of a high priority. All people’s rights and dignity must be protected whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In March, President Obama and Brazilian President Rousseff announced their shared support for the creation of a special rapporteur for LGBT rights within the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights. And we have our Bureau for Western Hemisphere Affairs and our permanent mission to the OAS to thank for that.

Also in March, the United States led a major effort at the Human Rights Council in Geneva to get other countries to sign on in support of a statement on ending violence and criminalization based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In the end, 85 countries signed the statement, 18 more than ever had signed onto any previous UN statement on LGBT rights.

And in the very next session of the Human Rights Council, just two weeks ago after another major push by American diplomats in Geneva as well as our teams from IO, DRL, EUR, WHA, and other bureaus, the Council passed the first ever UN resolution recognizing the human rights of LGBT people worldwide. And it was especially meaningful that we had South Africa cosponsoring that resolution with us. And with that we took a huge step forward in our work to refute the hateful suggestion that LGBT people are somehow exempt from human rights protections, and we made it absolutely clear that, so far as the United States is concerned and our foreign policy, and our values - that gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.

Now, it is not just momentous achievements like the Human Rights Council resolution that contribute to progress; it is the day-to-day work of our embassies and AID missions around the world to increase engagement around the issues affecting LGBT rights, especially in those places where people are at risk of violence, discrimination, or criminalization. That’s a concern that Johnnie Carson, our assistant secretary for African Affairs, who is currently on travel to Africa, raises regularly with his African leader counterparts; the op-ed that our ambassador to Barbados wrote in support of LGBT rights; the work that our Eric Schwartz, our assistant secretary for Population, Refugees, and Migration is doing to lead the training of humanitarian workers to better protect and assist LGBT refugees and asylum seekers; the discussions that undersecretary Maria Otero led about the human rights of LGBT people in our first Global Issues Dialogue with Norway.

And so I want to applaud all of our diplomats and our development experts who continue to reach out to those advocating around the world in Uganda, Malawi, Russia, Turkey, China, and so many other places. Our colleagues are meeting with human rights activists, health authorities, youth activists, sex workers, the full range of people who are involved in and working to protect LGBT people’s rights and lives. This is people-to-people diplomacy at its best.

Now, all this progress is worth celebrating, but we cannot forget how much work lies ahead. Because let’s just face the facts: LGBT people in many places continue to endure threats, harassment, violence – including sexual violence – in public and private. They continue to flee their homes and nations and seek asylum because they are persecuted for being who they are. They continue to be targeted for trying to build public support through pride activities such as parades. And what we have long thought is becoming the case, and that is if we can convince people to speak out about their own personal experiences, particularly within their own families, it does begin to change the dialogue.

If you followed closely, which I’m sure all of you did, the debate in New York, one of the key votes that was switched at the end was a Republican senator from the Buffalo area who became convinced that it was just not any longer fair for him to see one group of his constituents as different from another. Senators stood up and talked about nieces and nephews and grandchildren and others who are very dear to them, and they don’t want them being objectified or discriminated against. And from their own personal connections and relationships, they began to make the larger connection with somebody else’s niece or nephew of grandchild and what that family must feel like.

So we have to continue to stand up for the rights and the well-being of LGBT people, and sometimes it’s hard when you’re in the middle of a long campaign to see where you’re getting. But I’ve always believed that we would make progress because we were on the right side of equality and justice. Life is getting better for people in many places, and it will continue to get better thanks to our work. So I ask all of you to look for ways to support those who are on the front lines of this movement, who are defending themselves and the people they care about with great courage and resilience. This is one of the most urgent and important human rights struggles of all times. It is not easy, but it is so rewarding.

Pride month is a time for gratitude, for joy, and of course, for pride – pride in ourselves, in our families and friends, in our colleagues, in our community. And at the State Department, there are so many reasons for pride, and the same is true for all of our foreign affairs agencies represented here, from AID to the Peace Corps and others, because we do have so many talented people, and we have so many who are LGBT serving our nation with honor, courage, and skill. And shortly, our military partners will be able to say the same.

So think of the amazing work that has been done in the last year or two, because it truly is a great tribute to those who have fought for these rights, for those who have sacrificed for them, and mostly for our country, because it is our country and our values that truly are being put at the forefront.

And so I say to all of you, thank you. You make our country proud and you make me proud as the Secretary of State to work with you and serve with you every day. But please don’t forget that for every proud moment we can share together, there are so many around the world who live in fear, who live in shame, who live in such difficult circumstances. And our work must continue until they have the same opportunity that all of you and so many other Americans have, which is to be recognized for who you are and to be given the respect that you so richly deserve.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

# # #

Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release June 27, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hail to the Chief!: GLIFAA Election Results

GLIFAA recently held their annual election, and here are the results:

TJ Lunardi

Selim Ariturk

Policy Director
Paul Kim

John Wiecking

Public Affairs/Communications:
Ken Kero-Mentz

Congratulations all! GLIFAA is in great hands!

MONDAY: Secretary Clinton discusses LGBT Issues in US Foreign Policy

Join GLIFAA for a discussion about LGBT issues and U.S. government initiatives with Secretary Clinton!

9:30 a.m. Opening Remarks and Overview of the Status of LGBT People Worldwide
· Moderated by Ms. Maria Otero - Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs
· Panel of Senior U.S. Government Officials to be announced.

10:25 a.m. Remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton: LGBT Issues in U.S. Foreign Policy
· Presentation of the Hillary Rodham Clinton GLIFAA Equality Award

Monday, June 27th
9:30 - 10:45 a.m.
Dean Acheson Auditorium
Department of State
2201 C Street NW

Outside guests please provide Full Name, Date of Birth, and Drivers License (or other ID) number; please arrive 30 minutes prior to event.

Friday, June 24, 2011

2011 LGBT Pride Month: Sherry Rev

2011 LGBT Pride Month: Sherry Rev

In November 1954, I was born as the second oldest of ten children. I joined the US Army in January 1973 and was honorably discharged in March 1978.

I searched for a full-time job with the Federal Government, but there was a hiring freeze, so I operated a small bar/ hotel in my hometown. I finally obtained a temporary job in 1980 as a clerk with the US Army Recruiting station at the Federal Building in Syracuse, NY. I then went to work for the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) in October 1980. In July 1989, I transferred from New York to Florida. During my tenure at DCMA, I served in positions as either an administrative contracting officer or as a property administrator.

I worked with INL/RM in 1994 and 1995, and came back from DOD in November 2004. I work as a Property Administrator and travel to countries such as Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia, Pakistan, Iraq, Jordan, and Afghanistan. My job of oversight on the Air Wing program is to ensure that all government property, which includes aircraft (both fixed and rotary wing) and parts/supplies, are properly controlled and accounted for on a program that is worth over $1.5 Billion.

I obtained my master’s degree in contract management in December 2005 and have almost 37 years with the U.S. Government.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Reservations with reservations

So I have my reservations for a flight into Estonia...but I don't have the ticket yet.

Here's why.

As far as I knew, Scandinavian Airlines was the only airline flying to Tallinn that allowed birds. So I go to the travel office and tell them this is they flight I need.


Of course there is.

Scandinavian has no government fare. The flight they recommend is United via Amsterdam. It costs about $1600 less. $1600 the government *might* want me to cover.

Sigh...that is less than using a pet shipping company...

Anyway, I had them make the reservations but not buy the ticket while I went to check with United on their bird policy.

According to the website, she can fly in cabin. Big means only having to have Cayenne in cargo for the Amsterdam to Tallinn leg of the trip.

But first I should verify that with a human being...because you know how these things go, right.

So maybe by tomorrow, I will have paid tickets. And just hope nothing changes.

Seriously...she is a bird...maybe I should just make her fly there on her own!

FRIDAY: Pride Reception with Ambassador Susan Rice

Join GLIFAA for a 2011 GLIFAA Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month Reception with Special Guest Ambassador Susan Rice - U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

Friday, June 24th
3:30 p.m.
Delegates Lounge
Department of State
2201 C Street NW

Outside guests please provide Full Name, Date of Birth, and Drivers License (or other ID) number; please arrive 30 minutes prior to event for security screening.

2011 LGBT Pride Month: William H Boyle

2011 LGBT Pride Month: William H Boyle

William Boyle is a management-coned generalist, currently serving as management counselor in Stockholm. He entered the Foreign Service in 1999 and has also served in Manila, Copenhagen, Hong Kong, Islamabad, and Hyderabad. William was an attorney before joining the Department, and he met his partner while working at a U.S. law firm in Frankfurt, Germany.

William's partner is a citizen of Mauritius with a PhD in tourism management, and he is currently an assistant professor of marketing at Stockholm University. After 14 years as a couple, they were finally able to legally marry in Washington, D.C. in July 2010—and they are proud to have held their ceremony at the headquarters of the Human Rights Campaign, where the first same-sex marriage in Washington took place.

Unfortunately, William's partner still does not have the legal right to reside in the United States, but the couple is hopeful that the laws will change in time for them to retire to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In spite of the personal and professional challenges of being a bi-national couple, they love the work and lifestyle of the Foreign Service, especially since benefits were extended to same-sex partners in 2009.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Interview Blues

You would think that as a former journalist, I would like interviewing.

And in English, you would be right. I am very comfortable with it. I enjoy it. I like seeing where a question can take you.

But in Estonian, you would be wrong. Very wrong.

Do. Not. Like.

I know we need to practice it in class, though it isn't something we do all that often. We devote much more time to reading and speaking at length.

But this is my least favorite part of the test. And, I think, my weakest area.

I have trouble not getting into the answers and using those to segway to other questions. I understand most of what is being said to me.

But then I have to report back what I heard...and inevitably, I forget half of what was said.

Why don't you take notes, you ask. Geez, why didn't I think of that?

Actually I did. And I have tried. But I don't yet feel competent to take notes in Estonian. And if I take them in English, the switching back and forth between the two languages makes me miss much of what I am hearing. Because my understanding is better if I don't try to translate.

All of this is to say that my brain hurts. Only a week and one day before my test.

2011 LGBT Pride Month: Wesley Reisser

2011 LGBT Pride Month: Wesley Reisser

Wesley Reisser is a member of the State Department’s civil service, where he has spent the past eight years working mostly on Middle Eastern issues, first serving as the consular desk officer for Israel, Egypt, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates; then as a desk officer in the Office of Israel & Palestinian Affairs; and currently as an officer in the International Organization (IO) Affairs Bureau’s Office of Human Rights. While serving in IO, Dr. Reisser has had a range of responsibilities including work on Israeli-Palestinian issues, human rights in Iran, Palestinian refugees, and creating a policy on promoting the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. He has also served on the board of directors for Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA).

Dr. Reisser holds a bachelor's degree, Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa, in international affairs and history from George Washington University and a master's degree in geography from the same institution. In 2010, he completed a Ph.D. in geography from UCLA with a dissertation on American border proposals and peacemaking efforts following World War I. Dr. Reisser is a part-time professor of geography at George Washington University. He is a regular lecturer on Middle East geography at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute.

Besides his professional work, Dr. Reisser performed and taught Ukrainian folk dance for 17 years and has recently founded a new Eastern European dance group in D.C. Dr. Reisser is the 2007 National Geography Bowl Champion.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I has them!

Did I mention my assignments officer is a rock star?

Now I can get my tickets and make reservations for the pets.

Unfortunately, I discovered that my bird cannot fly on the airline I wanted to use. The other is also very good with pets, but will only allow her in the pet compartment. Which scares me.

But the only option is not to take her.

And that is not an option.

2011 LGBT Pride Month: Andy Ball & Augie Paculdar

2011 LGBT Pride Month: Andy Ball & Augie Paculdar

James “Andy” Ball is serving his fourth tour, and is the general services officer at the U.S. consulate general in Sydney, Australia. He is accompanied by his partner of 17 years, Agustin “Augie” Paculdar, who is the cultural liaison officer. Previous postings include Manila, Mexico City, and Washington, D.C.

They remember the challenges when SSDPs were member of households, and the uncertainties it brought. However, now that Augie is an eligible family member (EFM) that has opened up meaningful opportunities to contribute to the Department’s mission. Augie was the first SSDP to begin receiving benefits and protections as an EFM, and they are both grateful to Secretary Clinton for improving their lives in immeasurable ways. Augie has passed the Foreign Service exams and is on the register so possibly very soon Andy and Augie will face a new set of challenges as a tandem couple.

When they are not both working at the consulate, Andy and Augie are in the waters of Sydney Harbor as avid rowers on a dragonboat team. They have competed in the Pan Pacific International Games, the New South Wales State Championships, and the Australian National Championships. Prior to joining the Department, Andy was a US Air Force captain and worked on Capitol Hill. He received his BA from Vanderbilt and was born and raised in Tallahassee, FL. Augie also worked on Capitol Hill, and received his BA from Harvard and his MBA from the University of Southern California. He is a native of Los Angeles, CA. Their cat, Salcedo, is native to the streets of Manila.

Monday, June 20, 2011

2011 LGBT Pride Month: Lara A Ballard

2011 LGBT Pride Month: Lara A Ballard

Lara A. Ballard serves as the special advisor for privacy and technology in the Office of Communications and Information Policy, Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs (EEB/CIP). She is on detail from the Office of the Legal Adviser, where she has worked as an attorney-adviser since 1999. She has litigated claims in the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, advised the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs on arms export control and various aspects of international criminal law, and defended the Department before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in federal court. Lara has most recently served as the Department’s primary source of legal advice on a wide variety of privacy and technology issues. She helped draft the Department’s guidance on use of social media and provided legal advice to the administrators and designers of the Sounding Board. She has also served as the Department’s primary representative to several interagency groups dealing with issues related to privacy, surveillance, and global Internet freedom.

Prior to her arrival at the State Department, she clerked for the late Hon. Fred I. Parker, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She is a graduate of Columbia Law School (J.D. ’98) and the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service (B.S.F.S. ’91). From 1991 to 1995, she served on active duty in the U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery (PATRIOT) in Kaiserslautern, Germany and Kuwait City, Kuwait, leaving in 1995 with the rank of captain.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

2011 LGBT Pride Month: Anthony Cotton

2011 LGBT Pride Month: Anthony Cotton

Anthony Cotton is a Presidential Management Fellow on the Project Development Team in the Office of Development Credit at the United States Agency for International Development, and the Policy Director for Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA).

After earning his undergraduate business degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Anthony studied the Zulu language and culture on a Fulbright scholarship in South Africa. He then joined the Peace Corps and served as a small enterprise development volunteer in Ghana, where he developed and managed community-based cultural tourism projects. Anthony subsequently was a Peace Corps Fellow at Fordham University, where he earned master’s degrees in international development and economics.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Thanks, Mom

Today is my birthday. I would say that I am officially old but I think that happened a few years ago.

This birthday is no special milestone, but so far it has been a good one. I got some great gifts (my wife and Dad are rock stars!) and am getting dinner at the place of my choosing...I am thinking of mixing it up and getting something besides sushi. At the moment, I am thinking Indian, but my selection has changed several times today.

And then I get to cap it off with my favorite: red velvet cake!

Yep, I am THAT Southern.

But birthdays are also bitter sweet for me.

My mom passed away 15 years ago this July. She always called me on my birthday...and always at the exact minute of my birth.

Which is why I know without looking at my birth certificate that I was born at 1:26 AM.

Yes, A.M.

It was the only middle of the night phone call that I got that didn't make me leap out of bed, heart pounding. Because I always knew it was coming. In fact, before I moved away from home, she always woke me up at that hour.

She wanted to tell me how happy she was I was born.

What makes birthdays a bit sad for me now is that that call was the last time I spoke to my mother. Twelve days later, as she was planning a vacation, an aneurysm in her brain ruptured. Four hours later she was in a coma. Seventeen days later, she was gone.

So birthdays make me thankful for my mom's life and make me miss her terribly. I even miss that call.

Thanks for being my mom, Mom. Thanks for giving birth to me.

2011 LGBT Pride Month: Jim Thompson

2011 LGBT Pride Month: Jim Thompson

Jim Thompson serves as Deputy Special Representative for Global Partnerships in the Global Partnership Initiative within the Office of the Secretary of State. He is the managing director of the office and provides leadership on partnerships for water, food security, and LGBT programming. Jim served as the acting director of the U.S. Department of State’s Global Partnership Center and is the former acting director of the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID's) Global Development Alliance, which is the Agency's business model for the replicable use of public-private alliances. He was responsible for overall management and strategy of the activity and managed major corporate partner relationships for the Agency. Jim has 20 years of government experience, previously serving at USAID as a Food for Peace officer and a program officer in the Europe and Eurasia bureau. He also was a contracting officer at USAID and at the U.S. Department of Energy and has used his acquisition and assistance experience to create new public-private partnership models.

Friday, June 17, 2011

2011 LGBT Pride Month: Robert Haynie

2011 LGBT Pride Month: Robert Haynie

Robert Haynie serves as a Senior Partnerships Advisor in the U.S. Secretary of State’s Global Partnership Initiative Office (S/GPI) overseeing the global health and East Asia-Pacific portfolios. He works directly with the Special Representative for Global Partnerships, Kris Balderston, on priority initiatives, such as the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and the Shanghai 2010 World Expo USA Pavilion. Before joining the State Department, Robert worked in Booz Allen Hamilton's Diplomacy and International Development practice helping a variety of clients across a range of multi-sectorial projects. During Robert’s time at Booz Allen Hamilton, he worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) implementing competitiveness projects in Serbia for select industries to receive targeted programmatic investments. Before joining Booz Allen Hamilton, Robert worked with USAID’s Global Development Alliance (GDA) on public-private alliances and participated in USAID's Emerging Markets Development Advisors Program in Jordan for a year to support a local non-profit organization helping Jordanian small and medium-sized enterprises. Robert also lived in China for three years working with Microsoft Corporation managing regional operations and process re-engineering projects. Robert has a Bachelors of Science in International Affairs with a focus in Chinese studies and an MBA from Georgetown University with an honors certificate in International Business Diplomacy from the School of Foreign Service.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Today! GLIFAA brownbag lunch at FSI!

So I was correct. We will be meeting at 12:10 in room F1210 for the GLIFAA borwn bag lunch for the 161st A-100.

All GLIFAA members and allies are welcome!!

I hope to see you all there!

2011 LGBT Pride Month: Kevin Rosier

2011 LGBT Pride Month: Kevin Rosier

Kevin Rosier has served as an economic officer in the Foreign Service since 2006. His entry into the State Department began in 2003 when Kevin was invited to join the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship. Under that program, Kevin served domestically in the Office of Aviation Negotiations in the Bureau of Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs and overseas in the economic section of the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. With support from the Pickering Fellowship, Kevin completed a BS in Foreign Service at Georgetown University and MA in law and diplomacy at the Fletcher School (Tufts University).

Since joining the Foreign Service, Kevin has served as a consular-economic officer at the U.S. consulate general Chiang Mai and, most recently, as the fraud prevention manager at the American Institute in Taiwan (Taipei Office). Currently, Kevin is participating in a new Chinese language training program in Taiwan in preparation for an onward assignment in the economic section of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. A native of New Orleans, Kevin is an avid Creole cook and an adventurous eater of foreign foods

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tomorrow: GLIFAA A-100 Lunch!

Tomorrow, June 16, we will have our regular GLIFAA brownbag for the 161st A-100 class. I think it is in room F1210, but I have to check when I get to work in the morning to be certain. What I am certain of is that we will be meeting tomorrow from 12:10-12:50.

LGBT but not in the current A-100? NO PROBLEM! Come have lunch with us anyway! The more experienced voices at the table the better?

In the current A-100 but not LGBT? In fact, just happen to be at FSI but not LGBT? NO PROBLEM! Joine us anyway! We LOVE allies!

And I hear a rumor that rumor that the number of LGBT folks in this class blows away all previous class records (yes, a little piece of me, being from what had been called the gayest class ever, died when I typed that).

So this brown bag should be FABULOUS!

Sadly, it is also likely my last...someone else will have to carry the torch, as I take my final test in two weeks and finish training a week later.

2011 LGBT Pride Month Bios: Lawrence D Pixa

For the third year, in honor of Pride month, the State Department has published biographies of some of the Department's LGBT employees.

First up is Larry Pixa

Lawrence (Larry) Pixa is an economic affairs cone FSO en route to his first post as consular officer in Montreal, Canada. He is currently in French language training at FSI. He happily claims the U.S. Foreign Service as his fourth career and long term dream come true.

Before joining the Foreign Service, Larry worked 10 years in technical program management and business strategy for Microsoft Corporation. Larry managed technology-based programs supporting product development, sales, marketing, and public sector cooperation. Most recently, as part of Microsoft’s broader corporate social responsibility efforts, Larry oversaw programs in national security and public safety. Larry developed and managed public-private partnerships with government agencies and international organizations worldwide.

Just prior to working for Microsoft, Larry was Chief of Party on a 2-year USAID technical implementation project in Kyiv, Ukraine. Working directly with the National Bank and the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, Larry managed a technical deployment enabling secured lending for the private banks. Larry also consulted on related work in the Republics of Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, and Poland.

Finally, Larry has 9 years of experience in science and technology policy managing programs at NASA. Notably, Larry was Sr. Program Manager for the NASA High Performance Computing and Communications Program based in Washington, D.C. Larry also managed programs at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Maryland, and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California.

Larry holds a master of arts degree in international relations from George Mason University and a bachelor of science degree in language & linguistics from Georgetown University. Larry learned Spanish as a high school exchange student in Cáceres, Spain and also speaks French, Russian, and German.

Larry is a former army brat born and raised in Germany. He joins the Foreign Service with his life partner of over 20 years and their wire hair fox terrier, Lyudmila, adopted while living in Ukraine.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What I'll Be Missing

I confess.

I have benefited from another's misfortune. An infant's even.

Please don't think I am a bad person...I didn't mean to.

My classmate has missed the past two days of class because her baby has been sick. Nothing super serious, thank god, but even so, her staying home was completely understandable.

It also meant I got our teacher all to myself.


And ouch.

Being alone in language class is exhausting. But it is also awesome.

In just two days, I already feel like I have improved. I have gotten to focus on what I need to work on completely selfishly.

I have loved it!

It also annoys me though, because had I gotten to test on the day I originally scheduled, before the "priority testers" came in and snatched my time, I would have gotten nearly a week of one-on-one. And I can see how much I could benefit from that right here at the end. Because I can see how much I benefited from these two days.

Only two weeks and a day left before test day.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Amb. Polt's Comments for Baltic Pride 2011

Comments for Baltic Pride 2011 Rottermann Square

Ambassador Michael C. Polt

June 11, 2011

Good afternoon. My wife and I are delighted to be here with representatives of the Estonian government and my British colleague to help open this finale of Baltic Pride 2011. My Embassy is pleased to be a sponsor of this event.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have made LGBT Rights a part of the routine work of the U.S. Government. In addition to achievements such as ending the "don't ask, don't tell policy" in the U.S. military, they have also both been outspoken on importance of ending discrimination and violence against LGBT people in the U.S. and around the world.

Several months ago, President Obama and Secretary Clinton each appeared in videos for the "It Gets Better Campaign" to provide reassurance to LGBT young people struggling with their sexual orientation and considering suicide. At the Diversity in Riches Conference a few days ago here in Tallinn, a participant asked that the U.S. translate these videos into local languages for vulnerable young people who don't speak English.

I am pleased to say that U.S. Embassy Tallinn has translated Secretary Clinton's "It Gets Better" video into Estonian. You can now see the video with Estonian subtitles on the U.S. Embassy Facebook page; or on our website at I encourage you to forward it to friends and colleagues and especially to anyone who might have contact with vulnerable youth.

In the coming week, we will also release Secretary Clinton's video with Russian subtitles and President Obama's video with both Estonian and Russian subtitles.

I congratulate Estonian Gay Youth and the other organizers of this important event and I applaud the Estonian government and the people of Estonia for their efforts on behalf of tolerance, fairness and dignity for all.

Thank you and all the best for Baltic Pride.

You can see some photos from the event here.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Happy Pride!

GLIFAA was well represented at Washington, DC's annual Gay Pride Parade.

Everyone had a great time. If you weren't there with us, you missed a lot of fun!

But you haven't missed your chance. If you are at the Pride festival tomorrow, stop by our booth and say hello!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Chink in the Armor

Today I got another chink in my armor of "anonymity".

I was coming out of class for one of our breaks when someone said, "Are you going to Estonia?"

Yes, I answered.

"I think I know who you are."


"I'll just say my mom loves you and leave it at that."

Now I'm wondering, who is her mom? An FSO? A friend from my life before the FS?

I told her she couldn't just say that and walk away...I'd have spent weeks trying to figure that out, and no doubt a bit of my old INR paranoia would have crept in.

Turns out she was fellow FS blogger Caitlin at Tabbies In Tow. I love meeting fellow bloggers, and I really like hers.

I also told her to tell her mom I said thanks!


Last night, I went to the special opening night performance for Embassies and the press of Purge at the Scena Theatre here in DC, which was sponsored by the Estonian and Finnish embassies.
Purge is a play (and later a book) by Sofi Oksanen, a Finnish writer of Estonian descent. The play and book are set in Estonia in the 1950s and in 1992.

I really recommend it.

The play is powerful and moving. It really nails the complexity of the decisions people had to make, and live with, during those times just to survive. It is well written and well preformed. I wondered whether watching it was difficult for the Estonians in the audience, much as watching the more painful parts of our history, especially those dealing with American Indians, is hard for me.

I'll warn you, there is a bit of male nudity (I was shocked, I tell you! Shocked!).

The play runs through July 3. If you get a chance, you should go see it.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

One of the Best

Area studies today was one of the best we have had.

But of course, we both (that would be me and you) knew it would be wife was on the panel!

Seriously, it was a good class. We had the Poland, Estonia, and Lithuania Desk officers there along with the region's INR analyst. The Latvian Desk officer apparently had work to do!

We got to talk about our countries. And ask specific questions. And get answers about our countries and not Russia. By people who knew the answers.

It was awesome.

And here is a very telling quote from the class:

One panelist asked, "Have you talked much about the political situation in Latvia in the past few weeks?" (You know, where the president dissolved Parliament days before his own election, which he lost. He dissolved them because of the corruption of the Oligarchs in oligarch is now the president...).

And someone (not me) in the class answered, "No, not at all. But we can tell you all about this church in Kiev."

Nuff said.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Keeping U.S. officials safe overseas

Sadly, CBS has disabled the embed function, so I can't embed this video, but you should go check it out. It is piece CBS did about Diplomatic Security, and it is nice to see some of our folks getting credit for the great work they do. You can check it out here.

Keeping U.S. officials safe overseas - CBS News Video
CBS News video: Keeping U.S. officials safe overseas - With U.S. Sec. of State Hillary Clinton set to travel to the Middle East and Africa, Jeff Glor reports on how the Diplomatic Security Service keeps U.S. officials safe overseas.

I am the Number Two - the Deputy Chief of Mission - at the U.S. Embassy. I am also Gay.

Below is the transcript of the speech Bob Gilchrist, Tallinn's DCM, gave for the opening of Baltic Pride.

See why I am happy to be going there? Could you imagine this happening even just a few short years ago?

Remarks by U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission at Opening of Baltic Pride Festival

June 6, 2011

It's an honor to be here this evening. I extend my best from Ambassador Polt, whom I am representing here this evening. Many of you may have seen his supportive remarks in our Embassy's press release, in which he congratulated the LGBT community on the event of Baltic Pride and emphasized that "diversity and equality are fundamental values for us all."

My name is Robert Gilchrist and I am the Number Two - the Deputy Chief of Mission - at the U.S. Embassy.

I am also Gay.

So being here this evening is not just important to me as a U.S. Diplomat in reaffirming my government's respect for the integrity of every human being.

It is also important to me as someone who has been active in the gay movement back in my own country,

And as a fellow Gay person who is out and proud.

I had the honor of being the president for several years of an organization based in Washington called Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA). It is an organization that has grown to roughly 1000 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) and supportive U.S. diplomats and other government officials working in foreign affairs.

The organization's focus has been on extending same-sex partnership benefits to U.S. government foreign affairs personnel. Its focus has also been on urging that the basic rights of LGBT people be reflected in the actions and words of U.S. Embassies around the world and at the State Department and other offices in Washington.

Years ago it was hard for my group, GLIFAA, just to get meetings. And progress came slowly at that time

However, by being out... and proud... and persistent... and through the strength of our arguments

We were able to affect change.

Two years, through our work, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton extended to diplomatic personnel the first central government benefits to same-sex partners in U.S. history.

Over time, U.S. policy more broadly has also evolved. I had the honor last year of chairing LGBT Pride event at the State Department in Washington. Secretary of State Clinton spoke at that event and articulated a clear vision of very active support for LGBT rights in U.S. foreign policy. As such, the U.S. has been a strong advocate for LGBT-related initiatives in the UN and other international organizations. Our embassies in places as diverse as Uganda, Malawi, Russia, Albania, and many other places have been outspoken against anti-LGBT laws and state-supported actions.

In that Pride speech last year, Secretary Clinton said "Human Rights are Gay Rights, and Gay Rights are Human Rights." And under her and President Obama's leadership, U.S. diplomats have transformed those words into deeds.

I encourage you all to come to an event on Wednesday evening at the Teacher's House in the Old Town, where a senior official from the U.S. State Department - Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Thomas Melia - will speak on LGBT policy from a U.S. perspective.

I also encourage you all to keep an eye out for later this month, when we expect Secretary Clinton to again make a ground moving speech on LGBT rights - and I believe it will be broadcast live via the State Department website and then also put on YouTube. It says a lot when one of the most powerful women in the world speaks so positively on LGBT issues.

And I also encourage you all to enjoy and benefit from the events this week.

I'd like to thank Estonian Gay Youth and the other groups that have organized this week of events, which my Embassy is glad to help support.

I express appreciation to the other Embassies represented this evening, including the British and Dutch Ambassadors.

And, on behalf of Ambassador Polt and my government, I particularly recognize the role the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs and other parts of the Estonian government are playing in supporting this week's events. Tallinn is a welcoming environment for Baltic Pride, and the Estonian government's support has been fundamental in that.

Thank you very much. Have a great evening and week. Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights! And Happy Pride.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Cautiously Optimistic

This week has started off great and continues to hold good promise.

Last night, my wife and I had dinner with a bunch of friends from our time in Azerbaijan. I continue to believe that one of the things that keeps me in the service even when times are hard is the wonderful people you become friends with. And I love getting together with them back in the states, especially when it involves smashing crabbies (yay Quarterdeck!). And tonight, we are having sushi with another FS friend, this one from Jerusalem.

Also this week, I have managed to schedule my packouts (though I have already decided to reschedule the UAB one now that I have additional info). I scheduled it yesterday and heard from the moving company today. I expect to go this week and schedule my flight.

Tomorrow, we are having an Estonian happy hour and will get to see our other Estonian teacher for the first time in a while. I really like her and have missed having her in class, but alas, budget being what it is, FSI didn't have money for her right now. Hopefully they will bring her back in the fall...she is very good. We have been extremely fortunate to have two exceptional teachers (and since we only had two, we also are fortunate to have no bad teachers...not the case for some other languages!).

Thursday, I know area studies will be good because my wife is coming! And I know she knows a lot! Plus I just like getting to spend an afternoon with her...I married her because I like spending time with her! Then Thursday night, we are going to a performance of "Purge" that is sponsored by the Estonian Embassy.

And now for the cautiously optimistic part...I got an email, the contents I won't divulge right now, but suffice it to say that it has given me a bit of hope on an subject that has been troubling me. I'll tell you more later. I promise.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

U.S. Embassy Tallinn Press Release on Baltic Pride

U.S. Embassy Tallinn
Press Release
June 5, 2011

On the occasion of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month 2011, Ambassador Polt and his Embassy team join the Estonian government in congratulating Estonia’s LGBT community on the celebration of Baltic Pride June 6-11 in Tallinn, coordinated primarily by the NGO Estonian Gay Youth. The Embassy is providing financial support in addition to speakers, including Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Thomas Melia, who will be in Tallinn on June 8.

President Obama on May 31 issued a Presidential Proclamation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, which happens each year in June. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in June 2010 that “gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights” at an event commemorating LGBT Pride at the U.S. Department of State. President Obama and Secretary Clinton have set a vision that firmly incorporates LGBT rights in U.S. foreign policy, and the U.S. Government has included respect for the rights of LGBT persons as a core component in the Congressionally-mandated annual Country Reports on Human Rights.

Ambassador Polt states “we are pleased and honored to contribute to Baltic Pride, which will highlight LGBT organizations, individuals, and families in Estonia and from the region. Diversity and equality are fundamental values for us all.”

Friday, June 03, 2011

A Good Day To End a Good Week

Today was a good day.

If you read Four Globetrotters (and if you don't, why aren't you? She's really funny!), you know that in today's post, she talks about the language test we take when we finish our language training. Hers is in seven days. Mine is in 27.

The test is in two parts: reading and speaking. The speaking part has three parts: a warm up chat; a formal presentation (where you get to pick a topic from several choices, get five minutes to prepare, and then give your presentation); and the interview (again you pick from several topics, interview your tester about the topic, and then report what you understood in English to the examiner).

The presentation is Four Globetrotters' least favorite part, but it is my favorite part. It is the part where I feel in at least a little control. I like public speaking, even though it still makes me nervous, and in this part, I know what I am trying to say and can usually find a way to say it even with my limited vocabularly. And with all my years in academia, thinking about topics in an intro, three points, conclusion fashion comes pretty naturally.

My least favorite is the interview. The tester is always going to say things more quickly and more complexly than your ability to understand, in part because she wants to determine your ability to slow a person down, get them to explain in other words, etc. Plus, she wants to push you to your highest ability. It always leaves me drained...and that isn't even discussing how easy it is to get involved in the conversation and to forget to report until you realize you don't remember half of what was said. Not because you didn't understand at the time, but because the conversation has gone so far afield. The solution to that is to take notes, but my skills are not good enough to take notes quickly in Estonian and if I take notes in English, I am switching between languages in my head. Which slows me down. And makes me miss more than if I just let myself think in Estonian. (To the degree that I can!).

But I digress. What I wanted to say is that we practiced our presentation today too. Ultimately, my presentation probably wasn't much more in depth than how she describes hers. But I felt pretty good about it. I think it flowed pretty well, I was able to use some decent vocabulary and I think I did fairly well with the endings. Even my linguistically gifted classmate nodded approvingly at one expression I used.

It was a nice ending to a good week. A week that included movement on my orders, the discovery that my assignments officer is awesome, and the movement on the permit I need to take my bird with me to post. A week that included word from the Embassy about the press release they will issue this weekend for LGBT Pride (and I will just tell you that I could not be more pleased to be going to work for this Ambassador and DCM...but you don't get to see the release until they publish it.). A week that included a trip to the Estonian embassy and a chat with their political officer. He will be heading home soon. His replacement is the guy I told you we met at Main State some weeks back. My counterpart was there as well. I have met her before and she seems very nice and knowledgible. She also had some good things to say about the area I will be living in when I get to Tallinn...bonus!

At the end of the meeting, we were invited to a production of "Purge" that is sponsored by the Estonian and Finnish Embassies. I am looking forward to attending next week. She also invited us to a concert of Estonian children's music. I would like to attend that as well.

It was also a week where I felt like I was coming off my plateau. I consider it a good week if the number of times I feel like an idiot is lower than the number of times I feel like I am doing okay...I did have a blood sugar crash while doing a reading this week...I am sure my teacher thought my brains had drained out of my ear because I hit that level of stupid. But I can counter that with the amount that I understand now when I watch the Estonian news each night. I am feeling better about things.

And to cap off the week, we have the unofficial results of the AFSA elections. I'm pleased. The slate I voted for won, and as I said before, I feel strongly that the president needs to be active duty because the needs and demands of the service have changed. So we will keep our active duty president, Susan Johnson. I think she is good for AFSA and will make sure AFSA remains good for the service.

Yep, a good week. I hope yours was too. And here's to a good weekend. For all of us.

GLIFAA Pride Calendar

Gays and Lesbians In Foreign Affairs Agencies PRIDE calendar!

GLIFAA LGBT Pride Month Event with OPM Director John Berry and Counselor and Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills

Date: Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Location: Loy Henderson Auditorium, Harry S Truman Building (Main State)
Metro: Foggy Bottom (Blue/Orange Lines)


GLIFAA Pride Month Happy Hour

Date: Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Time: 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Location: Nellie's, 900 U St NW, Washington DC Metro: U Street/African American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo (Green/Yellow Lines, 10th St. Exit)

FSI Course: LGBT Community in Foreign Affairs Agencies

Date: Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Time: 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Location: Foreign Service Institute

RSVP: Register through FSI, or email


GLIFAA Pride Parade Reception

Come socialize, enjoy some appetizers and beverages, then join GLIFAA by marching in the Parade to represent GLIFAA publicly with our banners and new t-shirts.

Date: Saturday, June 11, 2011
Time: 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm

Location: 2138 Newport Place NW, Washington DC
Metro: Dupont Circle (Red Line)
RSVP: or on facebook


GLIFAA Marches in the Capital Pride Parade

All are welcome (LGBT and not!) to march with GLIFAA members and their families to support equality.

Date: Saturday, June 11, 2011
Dress: GLIFAA or post T-shirts
Time: 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm
Location: Starts at 23rd and P Streets NW, Washington DC Metro: Dupont Circle (Red Line)

RSVP: or on facebook


GLIFAA Pride Booth at the Capital Pride Street Festival

Date: Sunday, June 12, 2011
Time: 11:00 am to 6:00 pm
Location: Pennsylvania Avenue between 3rd and 7th Streets NW, Washington DC
Metro: Archives/Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter Metro station (Green/Yellow Lines) or Judiciary Square (Red Line)


Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Delivers GLIFAA's Pride Month Address and Receives the 2011 GLIFAA Equality Award

Date: To Be Announced
Location: Harry S Truman Building (Main State)
Metro: Foggy Bottom (Blue/Orange Lines)


GLIFAA Human Rights Campaign Reception with Special Guest

Date: To Be Announced
Location: Human Rights Campaign, 1640 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington DC
Metro: Farragut West (Blue/Orange Lines) or Farragut North (Red Line)


Thursday, June 02, 2011

My Itinerary update

My assignment officer is a rock star. Seriously. She's awesome.

I sent her an email that basically said "Help! My Itinerary is evil!" and she walked me though a solution.

Turns out the program doesn't grasp that not everyone is transferring from overseas. Turns out is doesn't actually need to know where I will be on my annual leave, or how I will travel from my leave in Arlington to my consultations at Main State. Turns out, it just needs to know the things that affect the cost of me going to Estonia.

So she told me delete all that and just put in when I am flying to Estonia...and it worked! I was able to submit.

Then she told me what to look for to tell if it had gone into the great abyss (it had), and to tell her so she could get her magicians to retrieve it for her.

So theoretically, things are progressing.

Like I said, she is awesome!

Ukrainian Studies

Oops, I meant area studies.

Okay, today was actually not THAT bad. Our speaker, from the National Committee on Soviet Jewry, talked a bit about what his organization was doing (and how they really wish they had a different name, since there is no longer a Soviet Union, but that with their group's name recognition, they were advised not to change it...branding and all).

He did talk a good bit about Ukraine, and again I am thankful that at least it is on a country some of us are going to.

And he did at least mention the other countries.

Still, I find myself annoyed that we have three weeks left of area studies and I feel I have learned so much about Ukraine, a bit about Poland and substantially less about the Balts. Or NATO. Or the EU (we did get that one lecture on the history of the EU...I think we made it to about 1936...not much on what is currently going on).

Meanwhile, interesting things are going on in the Balts. Estonia had elections, interesting elections that demonstrated how stable the government is despite their austerity measures. They have also transitioned to the Euro, and yet with all the change and all the world economic crises, their economy has suffered less than others. I know about this stuff because I read the news, not because area studies has taught me anything. And then there is Latvia. Their President DISSOLVED parliament this week and then lost his election. Good stuff...not a peep about it in area studies.

Next week, we will have break out sessions. These are good in theory, but more often than not, for us, they mean the Balts and Poland together in a session while Ukraine's folks go someplace interesting. For our break out, we will have the same speaker we have had for at least three other lectures (all but one were breakouts I think). He is great, and really knowledgeable, but seriously. Is he the only person who can talk about the Balts?

One good thing wife will be coming with him this time. So at least I get an afternoon with her out of it!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Happy Pride

Today marks the beginning of LGBT Pride Month, and I wanted to share with you the President's proclamation.

Even though I know there is so much further we need to go, I still appreciate having a President who is willing to actually address the LGBT community and to honor a month honoring the contributions we make to the country.

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 31, 2011
Presidential Proclamation--Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month

The story of America's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community is the story of our fathers and sons, our mothers and daughters, and our friends and neighbors who continue the task of making our country a more perfect Union. It is a story about the struggle to realize the great American promise that all people can live with dignity and fairness under the law. Each June, we commemorate the courageous individuals who have fought to achieve this promise for LGBT Americans, and we rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Since taking office, my Administration has made significant progress towards achieving equality for LGBT Americans. Last December, I was proud to sign the repeal of the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. With this repeal, gay and lesbian Americans will be able to serve openly in our Armed Forces for the first time in our Nation's history. Our national security will be strengthened and the heroic contributions these Americans make to our military, and have made throughout our history, will be fully recognized.

My Administration has also taken steps to eliminate discrimination against LGBT Americans in Federal housing programs and to give LGBT Americans the right to visit their loved ones in the hospital. We have made clear through executive branch nondiscrimination policies that discrimination on the basis of gender identity in the Federal workplace will not be tolerated. I have continued to nominate and appoint highly qualified, openly LGBT individuals to executive branch and judicial positions. Because we recognize that LGBT rights are human rights, my Administration stands with advocates of equality around the world in leading the fight against pernicious laws targeting LGBT persons and malicious attempts to exclude LGBT organizations from full participation in the international system. We led a global campaign to ensure "sexual orientation" was included in the United Nations resolution on extrajudicial execution -- the only United Nations resolution that specifically mentions LGBT people -- to send the unequivocal message that no matter where it occurs, state-sanctioned killing of gays and lesbians is indefensible. No one should be harmed because of who they are or who they love, and my Administration has mobilized unprecedented public commitments from countries around the world to join in the fight against hate and homophobia.

At home, we are working to address and eliminate violence against LGBT individuals through our enforcement and implementation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. We are also working to reduce the threat of bullying against young people, including LGBT youth. My Administration is actively engaged with educators and community leaders across America to reduce violence and discrimination in schools. To help dispel the myth that bullying is a harmless or inevitable part of growing up, the First Lady and I hosted the first White House Conference on Bullying Prevention in March. Many senior Administration officials have also joined me in reaching out to LGBT youth who have been bullied by recording "It Gets Better" video messages to assure them they are not alone.

This month also marks the 30th anniversary of the emergence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which has had a profound impact on the LGBT community. Though we have made strides in combating this devastating disease, more work remains to be done, and I am committed to expanding access to HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Last year, I announced the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States. This strategy focuses on combinations of evidence-based approaches to decrease new HIV infections in high risk communities, improve care for people living with HIV/AIDS, and reduce health disparities. My Administration also increased domestic HIV/AIDS funding to support the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and HIV prevention, and to invest in HIV/AIDS-related research. However, government cannot take on this disease alone. This landmark anniversary is an opportunity for the LGBT community and allies to recommit to raising awareness about HIV/AIDS and continuing the fight against this deadly pandemic.

Every generation of Americans has brought our Nation closer to fulfilling its promise of equality. While progress has taken time, our achievements in advancing the rights of LGBT Americans remind us that history is on our side, and that the American people will never stop striving toward liberty and justice for all.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2011 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.


LGBT Community in Foreign Affairs Agencies

Next Wednesday, FSI will be offering a workshop on the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community in Foreign Affairs Agencies. The workshop lasts from 5:30 to 8:30 pm and is open to employees, EFMs, MOHs and probably several other acronyms.

If you are interested in attending, contact