Secretary of State John Kerry has selected an openly gay career foreign service officer to serve as the United State’s “heart and conscience” in promoting equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in countries where they are discriminated against.

Kerry announced Monday that Randy Berry, currently consul general in Amsterdam, would be the first special envoy for LGBT rights.

“We looked far and wide to find the right American official for this important assignment. Randy’s a leader. He’s a motivator. But most importantly for this effort, he’s got vision,” Kerry said in a statement.

Our colleague Josh Hicks reported earlier this month that State intended to appoint someone to the newly created post. It was an idea Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) first suggested through legislation.

The Human Rights Campaign, in a statement released after Berry was chosen, said it had worked with Markey and Lowenthal, and encouraged Kerry to create the position.

“This new appointment sends a message that the United States will remain on the forefront of  protecting the human rights of LGBT people around the world,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Nations that place LGBT people in the cross hairs of danger must know that the United States will not turn a blind eye.”

There are three countries — Russia, Nigeria and Lithuania — with laws forbidding so-called LGBT propaganda. In 76 countries it’s illegal to be gay. Last year, Kerry compared anti-homosexual laws in Uganda to anti-Semitism during the Holocaust and apartheid South Africa.

“Defending and promoting the human rights of LGBT persons is at the core of our commitment to advancing human rights globally – the heart and conscience of our diplomacy,” Kerry said Monday.