As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), successfully fought to include an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2018 State Department appropriations legislation to prevent the elimination of two critical offices for ensuring LGBTI rights are a U.S. foreign policy priority.
“America must lead by example, and eliminating offices that help facilitate LGBTI human rights is not the right example to set,” said Senator Baldwin. “I’m proud to have led the fight to reverse the Trump Administration’s cuts to these two critical programs. Together, we can continue the march for fairness, freedom and full equality for all.”
This March, President Trump ordered a reorganization of the State Department and the United States Agency of International Development (USAID), to include the elimination or downgrade of certain critical Special Envoy offices and human rights programs. Senator Baldwin’s amendment to the FY 2018 State Department funding bill prevented the elimination of the Office of the Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons within the State Department, which facilities high-level, bilateral engagement on LGBTI rights, and the LGBTI Portfolio within USAID, which coordinates and leads USAID’s efforts to support inclusive, culturally-specific development efforts that respect and further the human rights of LGBTI people. Both programs have been restored to current funding levels.
Senator Baldwin’s amendment also directs the State Department to continue to include descriptions of official government discrimination of LGBTI persons in its annual country human rights reports and to allocate resources to LGBTI programing and the Global Equity Fund. Finally, the amendment requires the State Department to take into account a country’s LGBTI human rights record when making foreign aid decisions, providing a powerful incentive for foreign nations to improve treatment of their LGBTI citizens.
The bipartisan legislation passed the Senate Appropriations Committee and now awaits a vote before the full Senate.