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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 17 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 42
Murray and Cantwell urge Obama to appoint LGBT Rights envoy
Section One
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Murray and Cantwell urge Obama to appoint LGBT Rights envoy

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Washington's two U.S. Senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, have joined 22 other Senators in a letter to President Obama, urging him to appoint a Special Envoy for LGBT Human Rights within the State Department.

The effort was organized by Senator Edward Markey (D-MA), who drafted previous legislation calling for the envoy.

The Senators' letter notes that more than 80 countries still list Gay sex as a crime, prohibit public support for the LGBT community, or promote homophobia. Seven countries specify the death penalty for Gay residents.

The letter singles out Uganda and Nigeria as countries that have passed new anti-Gay laws this year.

'We believe the time has come to take the next step,' the Senators say in their letter.

'To adequately address the challenges posed by these new discriminatory laws, there needs to be coordination of action across the federal government. That is why we are calling on you to create a Special Envoy within the State Department who would serve as principal advisor to the Secretary of State on LGBT issues and can coordinate our efforts to resist these discriminatory laws.'

Murray said a Special Envoy on LGBT rights would help the U.S. apply its human rights policy in countries that may have anti-Gay legislation or policies.

'As many nations condone discrimination and hatred against LGBT people, the United States must stand with the LGBT community in the struggle for equality around the globe,' Murray said in an October 15 statement.

'Appointing a Special Envoy for LGBT rights at the Department of State will help our foreign policy leaders meet the challenges before us as they work to ensure equality for all people around the globe.'

In addition to Murray, Cantwell, and Markey, the letter was signed by Senators Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kristen E. Gillibrand (D-NY), Al Franken (D-MN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Christopher A. Coons (D-DE), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Christopher S. Murphy (D-CT), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Brian Schatz (D-HI).

Murray was also one of the original co-sponsors of Markey's International Human Rights Defense Act, introduced in June. That bill calls for the creation of a Special Envoy for LGBT rights in addition to other measures to protect LGBT rights internationally.

To date the Senate has not acted on Markey's legislation.

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