While the White House remains silent, other federal agencies are recognizing June as LGBT Pride month.

On Wednesday, the State Department issued remarks from Secretary Rex Tillerson.

“In recognition of LGBTI Month, the Department of State affirms its solidarity with the human rights defenders and civil society organizations working around the world to uphold the fundamental freedoms of LGBTI persons to live with dignity and freedom,” reads the opening paragraph of Tillerson’s statement.

With a change in the White House, many LGBT activists feared a roll back of their rights. At Foggy Bottom, advancement of LGBT officers appears on track.

On May 17, the State Department released a dialogue from Ted Osius, the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam. During a recent public event in Hue, Vietnam, Osius was asked about difficulties he had encountered during his career as a result of being gay.

“When I first joined the Foreign Service, we could lose our jobs for being out,” Osius responded. “Because there is strength in numbers, we created a group, and we persuaded the State Department to stop discrimination based on sexual orientation. As American society grew more accepting, we insisted that our families be treated with the same respect as traditional families.”

Osius also recounted experiences in India and Indonesia where his spouse, Clayton Bond, was treated with equal respect by their foreign hosts. Vietnam, Osius said, is a shining example.

“Since we arrived in Vietnam, our family – a black man, a white man, a son and a daughter who are both brown – we have received the warmest possible welcome,” Osius said. “If I can draw a lesson from these experiences, it is that it is better to be who you are. I don’t think happiness is possible any other way. Be who you are.”

Meanwhile, Tillerson’s statement acknowledged risks associated with full disclosure. There are many countries that still consider homosexuality a crime.

“We also recognize that LGBTI persons continue to face the threat of violence and discrimination. Violence and discrimination targeting any vulnerable group undermines our collective security as well as American values. When all persons are protected on the basis of equality and with dignity, global stability is strengthened. We will continue to support the human rights of LGBTI persons together with like-minded governments, businesses, and civil society organizations globally,” Tillerson said. “The United States remains committed to human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons. Dignity and equality for all persons are among our founding constitutional principles, and these principles continue to drive U.S. diplomacy.”

Elsewhere, the U.S. Navy was one of the first uniformed service organizations to issue a LGBT Pride Month statement. In a press release, the Navy declares the LGBT community is part of One Navy Team that contributes their diverse talents, skills and service to the strength of the force.

"To remain the finest seagoing fighting force, the Navy needs men and women who are the right fit for the right job regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, creed or gender identity," said Capt. Candace Eckert, Special Assistant for Inclusion and Diversity. "Our goal is to ensure that the mission is carried out by the most qualified and capable Sailors. If an individual can meet the Navy's standards, they should be afforded the opportunity to be part of the One Navy Team."

 


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