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On Friday, October 10, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), long a champion of LGBT rights, sent a letter along with a quarter of the entire U.S. Senate calling on the Obama Administration to appoint a global LGBT envoy at the State Department. The letter mirrored his legislation, the International Human Rights Defense Act of 2014 (S. 2472), which he introduced this summer, along with his House colleague Rep. John Tierney (D-MA). The appointee would oversee the United States government’s efforts to support the human rights of LGBT people around the world. 

“We believe the time has come to take the next step,” Senator Markey wrote in the letter. “To adequately address the challenges posed by these new discriminatory laws, there needs to be coordination of action across the federal government. That is why we are calling on you to create a Special Envoy within the State Department who would serve as principal advisor to the Secretary of State on LGBT issues and can coordinate our efforts to resist these discriminatory laws.”

A copy of the letter to President Obama can be found here. A copy of the International Human Rights Defense Act can be found here. The letter was also signed by Senators Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kristen E. Gillibrand (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Al Franken (D-MN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Christopher A. Coons (D-DE),  Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Christopher S. Murphy (D-CT), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Brian Schatz (D-HI). 

In August, HRC President Chad Griffin sent a letter to Secretary of State Kerry, urging him to take this important step in advocating for global equality. Griffin also joined a coalition in sending a similar letter.  This effort was bolstered by the over 26,000 HRC members who sent letters to Secretary Kerry’s office urging him to create the position.

HRC will continue to post updates as this story develops.

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