President Joe Biden named OutRight Action International executive director Jessica Stern as America’s LGBTQI+ Special Envoy as Pride month nears its end on Friday, making her the second person to hold the position since its creation in 2015.
The White House announced Stern’s appointment ahead of an appearance from the President where he addressed multiple topics pertaining to the nation’s LGBTQ community. Stern becomes the first to hold the position since current ambassador to Nepal Randy Berry did from 2015-2017. The position remained vacant during the Trump administration.
“The Special Envoy will play a vital role in leading implementation of the Presidential Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons Around the World,” read the White House’s statement. “At a time when the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons are increasingly threatened in all regions of the world, the Special Envoy will bring together like-minded governments, civil society organizations, corporations and international organizations to uphold dignity and equality for all.”
“This administration is ensuring that U.S. diplomacy and foreign aid promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the world,” tweeted Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “[President Biden’s] appointment of Jessica Stern as the U.S. Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons reaffirms our commitment.”
In addition to her work with OutRight Action International, Stern worked extensively with the United Nations to secure protections for LGBTQ populations worldwide. She co-founded the UN LGBTQI Core Group, secured the United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity mandate and advocated for the inclusion of gender identity in the UN General Assembly’s mandate.
“LGBTIQ communities in the United States and around the world need and deserve a clear-eyed human rights champion to galvanize a wise reemergence of the U.S. government insisting on full human rights for LGBTIQ people everywhere. Jessica is that person,” said Jenny Pizer, co-chair of OutRight Action International’s board of directors. “No one works with deeper commitment, greater integrity, or more skillful strategic vision on behalf of our global LGBTIQ family.”
“She has provided expert opinions to governments globally, regional human rights institutions, and UN mechanisms, including UN Women where she serves as a member of multiple leadership bodies. Her writing has been cited by the Indian Supreme Court in its seminal judgment decriminalizing same-sex relations,” read The White House’s statement.
Stern expressed gratitude and “bittersweet” feelings at departed OutRight Action International to take her new position with the State Department. “Serving as OutRight’s executive director has been the honor of a lifetime. I can think of no organization that works with more integrity, more skillful staff, more motivated board members, more valued partners, or greater impact,” Stern said.
Biden signs HR 49 Making Pulse Nightclub a national memorial and more
President Biden also signed HR 49 into law, designating the location of Pulse nightclub a national memorial, pushed the Senate to vote on the Equality Act and addressed the wave of trans-exclusionary legislation introduced in more than 30 states during Friday’s events.
“Our presence here this afternoon makes a simple, strong statement: Pride is back at the White House,” Biden said. “Above all, Pride month stands for love. Being able to love yourself, love who you love and love this country enough to make it more fair and more free and more just. “
Biden stated that his administration would have more to say about how it will address the increased threats to LGBTQ and specifically trans Americans in the coming days. He also stated his commitment to “finally ending the AIDS epidemic.”
He also praised the youth of America as the “least prejudiced,” “most open,” “most giving” and “best educated” generation “in all of history.”
“We must protect the gains we’ve made and fend off the cruel, unconscionable attacks we’re seeing now to ensure that everyone enjoys the full promise of equality, dignity and protection,” Biden added. “Our work is unfinshed.”
Jessica Stern: Previously on Towleroad
Screenshot via YouTube