Friday, February 28, 2014

Secretary Kerry Calls Discrimination Against Global LGBT "An Affront to Every Reasonable Conscience"

We have been really fortunate lately with our Secretaries of State, particularly from an LGBT perspective.

Secretary Clinton was obviously a rock star and from day one, wanted to do what she could to make the lives of LGBT people around the world better. And she was willing to start at home, with her own diplomats. And let me tell you, life is better for the changes we made.

And then we got our current Secretary of State, John Kerry. Secretary Kerry was an ally when it wasn't cool to be an ally. He was one of the the few, and the only one up for re-election at the time, who voted against the now defunct so-called Defense of Marriage Act. That took guts.

What he is doing now takes guts too. We are seeing a lot of backlash against LGBT people as a result of the Supreme Court overturning parts of DOMA. A flurry of laws have been considered (and thankfully dispatched, if not for the right reasons) under the guise of defending religious freedom. (And if you  think your religious freedom is being interfered with by my right to marry, please read this.)

Abroad, worse things are happening. In Uganda, they have passed a law making it illegal for being gay. You can go to jail for life for the crime of who you are and who you love. You can also be thrown in jail for not reporting a family (so to the family member I unfriended on Facebook last night for his snarky comments about world response to this law, I guess you would happily turn me in and see me serve life in prison.)

So in light of this law, I am really happy to see that Secretary Kerry is responding to this and all of the laws targeting LGBT people by saying we are going to focus on combating discrimination against LGBT across the globe.

He gets it.

During a press conference on the release of our annual Human Rights Report, he said the law in Uganda and those in some 80 countries around the globe, from Nigeria to Russia to Iran, are "an affront to every reasonable conscience."

And then he said:

“You could change the focus of this legislation to black or Jewish, and you could be in 1930s Germany, or you could be in 1950s or ’60s apartheid South Africa,” Kerry said during a roundtable interview with reporters Wednesday. “It was wrong there, egregiously, in both places, and it is wrong here.”


And thank you.

Monday, February 24, 2014


There used to be a blog out there called "Six Months of Settled." The idea behind the title is that as Foreign Service Officers, between arriving at a post and getting past culture shock and really settling in until you are bidding again and then mentally moving on, you get to feel settled in a country for about six months.

It is fairly true, but I feel like I have gotten more than that out of Tallinn.

Living here is easy and pleasant. There is so little of what you need to live comfortably that you can't obtain really easily here that it makes it easy to just snuggle in quickly like I do with my flannel sheets (because it does get cold!).

I have loved my time here. I love my job, my staff, and this whole place. So I have postponed mentally moving on because I like it so much here. Through the bidding process and getting assigned to my onward post, I never checked out of Estonia.

And I am still not ready to leave, but as I approach my last five months in Tallinn, I admit I am beginning to feel unsettled. And it makes me sad.

On the Myers-Briggs scale, I am an ENTJ. And I think it is the J part that really REALLY likes to plan. I love lists. I love having a schedule. I love thinking about what I am doing next and organizing it in my head and on paper.

I have already started the process of getting my orders, already registered for training, already made plane reservations for us and the pets, already gotten a welcome cable from Kosovo. And while I have avoiding breaking out the pen and paper so far, in my head, I am already making lists.

What do I need to remember to put in my suitcase? Should I start packing it now (NO!)

What should I put in my UAB?  Should I set it aside in one of the rooms we seldom use (again, NO!).

Maybe I should just start my inventory. (Okay, maybe).

I am even making lists of things I want to do to our new place in Maryland and things I will want to put into our consumables shipment to Kosovo (dog food, cat food, bird food...and diet Mt. Dew).

One list I should make, but won't, is places I should visit before I leave.

I figure, if I miss something I wanted to see, I will just have to come back.

And I will want to come back. Because I don't want to leave.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Feds to expand legal benefits, services for same-sex marriages

Some more good news out of DC. The Department of Justice has decided to expand recognition of same-sex marriages in the areas of federal legal matters, even if the couple does not reside in a marriage equality state.

This means that a person can visit his or her same-sex spouse in prison and the couple can file jointly for federal bankruptcy. It also means that just like with heterosexual couples, a same-sex spouse can not be compelled to testify against his or her spouse. There is already one case I know of where a woman was threatened with jail for not testifying against her wife.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said, "Just like during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the stakes involved in this generation's struggle for LGBT equality could not be higher...As attorney general, I will not let this Department be simply a bystander during this important moment in history."

You can read more here and here.

Just Getting Back...

I just got in last night from R&R (yay! Folly Beach!), so I owe you a few posts, some about the trip but mostly catching up on things I missed posting about.

I'll backdate them so that they appear in chronological order.