Remarks at the Department's Annual LGBT Pride Month Event

John J. Sullivan
Deputy Secretary of State
Burns Auditorium, Marshall Center
Washington, DC
June 5, 2018

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Greg. Good afternoon everyone. I would like to thank the Office of Civil Rights, GLIFAA, and the Asian American Foreign Affairs Association for organizing today’s event as we join people around the world in marking the month of June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) Pride Month.

I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak with you today as we celebrate the great diversity of our Department’s workforce. This month, we have an opportunity to show our support and to celebrate our LGBTI colleagues, career or political, Foreign Service or Civil Service, contractors or Locally Employed Staff.

I look forward to hearing about other events and celebrations held at Posts around the world in commemoration of June LGBTI Pride Month.

I’d like to take a moment to explain why I believe workforce diversity is so important.

All of us who work in foreign affairs know that the world is a complex place, full of different views and experiences.

That is why we have Embassies abroad. To represent the American people, yes, but equally as important, to allow our colleagues to gain knowledge of the world around us, to understand how we can work with other countries, and to determine where there are threats to our security.

We are so much stronger as a Department when we are able to leverage the expertise and experiences of all people.

A diverse workforce brings diverse perspectives to the table – it approaches problems differently and produces creative and innovative solutions. By leveraging this advantage, we are better able to represent the American people and can better serve and protect our great nation.

Secretary Pompeo has given us his pledge to create a more diverse and inclusive Department of State, by: “focusing on mission and demanding that every team member be treated equally and with dignity and respect.”

In 2009, this Department extended workplace protections against discrimination to all of its employees, and more recently, has advocated strongly for employees’ families to better facilitate their service abroad.

As a Department, we continue to seek greater diplomatic recognition for the families of LGBTI employees. We know that in many countries, this is a challenge, but if an employee is ready and willing to serve in a country where they may face hardships, our support of their service and sacrifice should be matched by the way we advocate for them and their families.

FSI has also created the online training course “LGBTI at State” [PT175] to increase awareness among the entire workforce about issues and sensitivities related to the LGBTI community.

I encourage everyone in the Department to take this training, in fact, I insist upon it, so we can ensure that our workforce, at home and abroad, fosters a welcoming and inclusive environment.

This afternoon it is my great pleasure to welcome Congressman Mark Takano to deliver our keynote address.

Elected in 2012 from the state of California, Congressman Takano represents the people of Riverside, Moreno Valley, Jurupa Valley, and Perris in the United States House of Representatives, where he holds the distinction of being the first openly LGBTI person of color to serve.

In addition to serving as the Vice Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs and as a member of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, the Congressman’s seat on the Education and Workforce Committee is a testament to his long career as a teacher in his home district.

Congressman Takano leads by example and his commitment to public service and to promoting diversity and inclusion is one we should all work to emulate. I am most grateful that he has joined us here today and look forward to him sharing his experiences. So, without further ado, please join me in welcoming Congressman Mark Takano to the stage.