Secretary of State John Kerry has selected an openly gay career Foreign Service officer to serve as the United States’ “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 this month that State intended to appoint someone to the newly created diplomatic post. It was an idea Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) first suggested through legislation.
Markey promptly tweeted his congrats, saying the United States “now stands” with LGBT communities everywhere.
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.”
Three countries — Russia, Nigeria and Lithuania — have laws forbidding so-called LGBT propaganda. In 76 countries it’s illegal to be gay. Last year, Kerry compared anti-gay laws in Uganda to the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany and blacks under apartheid in 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.
Eric Holder may be the third-longest-serving attorney general in U.S. history, but he’s almost surely the most traveled. Loop fans may recall some of his fine trips with staff and security on his FBI plane to places such as New Zealand, Morocco, Barbados and, of course, Europe. Then there are those domestic trips to fulfill his pledge to visit all 93 U.S. attorney’s offices.
And just because he’s likely to leave in about three weeks, that doesn’t mean he’s just sitting around his office packing boxes and writing farewell thank-you notes. (“Dear Darrell Issa . . . ”)
No, Monday morning found him in jolly old London, attending the Global Law Summit, a three-day international gabfest of 2,000 lawyers from government, business and other organizations who are celebrating the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. (It did help shape American law.) Holder didn’t make a formal speech there, but he delivered remarks at the welcoming session Monday morning in the Churchill Auditorium of the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre.
The event styles itself as a “high-level business forum” with a mix of “practitioners, business leaders and others” to talk about and “develop relationships across markets and jurisdictions.” Folks from 50 countries were set to attend, including top officials from China, Russia, Ukraine and Malta.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon may have been too busy to attend, but he sent a video.
Not going? There may still be time to get a flight out of Dulles.
The brochure says: “Whether you are looking for investment, to invest, or wanting to collaborate, networking can be instrumental for your prospects for growth.”
Sounds like a good event for passing out business cards.
Perhaps the most moving moment of Sunday’s Academy Awards came during Graham Moore’s acceptance speech after he won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay for writing “The Imitation Game.”
Moore brought the Oscar audience to its feet when he shared that as a teenager he’d tried to commit suicide because he felt “weird and different.” He implored young people watching at home who felt like outsiders to believe that one day they, too, will have their moment.
But what Loop fans might not have known about Moore is his deep connection to the Obamas.
Moore’s mother is Susan Sher, who was Michelle Obama’s chief of staff and is now coordinating the push to have President Obama’s official library located in Chicago. But their relationship is beyond professional — the families have been friends for years. In July 2009, the Chicago Tribute wrote:
“They regularly gather for dinner or a movie at the White House. Obama has visited the apartment building for a progressive dinner: drinks at [Valerie] Jarrett’s apartment, a stop at Sher’s place and a barbecue dinner hosted by [Desiree] Rogers. They all joined Obama and her daughters for a Beyonce concert in Washington last month.”
Last week, Variety speculated that “The Imitation Game” — the film about a mathematician who helped crack Nazi code during World War II but was prosecuted for being gay — was a White House favorite because of the Obamas’ relationship with Sher.
And Moore himself is deep inside the Obama orbit. In 2010, when Sher hosted a Washington book party for her son’s novel, “The Sherlockian,” it was described as a “who’s who’s” crowd by legendary Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet.
Joe and Jill Biden also hosted a gathering for the book’s release at the vice president’s residence. Jarrett, senior adviser to the president, called herself Moore’s “other mother.”
But outside of the Obama inner circle and the people who follow it closely, like Sweet, many people only learned of the Moore-White House connection when congratulations and comments poured out over Twitter after his Oscar win.
Twitter: @KamenInTheLoop, @ColbyItkowitz