Jun 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden appoints Jessica Stern as special envoy for LGBTQ rights

Picture of Jessica Stern holding a microphone
Jessica Stern. Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

President Biden announced on Friday that he would appoint Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, as U.S. special envoy for LGBTQ rights at the State Department.

Why it matters: Stern currently serves as head of an organization that specializes on addressing human rights violations against the LGBTQ community. As U.S. envoy, she will focus on promoting and protecting the rights of LGBTQ people around the world.

  • Stern is the second person to be named to the role. The first, Randy Berry, served from 2015 until 2017, after which the position was left vacant by former President Trump, CNN reports.

The big picture: This is the Biden administration's latest effort to address LGBTQ rights, and comes in the final days of Pride Month.

  • Biden became the first president to issue a proclamation to formally celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility, and also appointed Pete Buttigieg as Transportation secretary, the first openly-gay person to be confirmed to a Cabinet position.
  • Biden promised during his campaign that he would appoint someone for the special envoy role, along with an official responsible for LGBTQ+ rights on the National Security Council and a special coordinator in charge of international LGBTQ+ programming at USAID. The latter two have yet to be named.

What they're saying: "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," the White House said in a statement.

Her background: While at OutRight, Stern supported the legal registration of LGBTQ organizations around the world. She also helped secure the mandate of the United Nations Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, and helped expand the UN General Assembly resolution to include gender identity, according to the White House.

What to watch: Stern will join Biden when he delivers remarks later on Friday to commemorate Pride Month.

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