Susan Rice: U.S. Must Integrate LGBT Rights into Gov’t and Foreign Policy

By Lauretta Brown | October 27, 2016 | 3:05 PM EDT

National Security Adviser Susan Rice (AP Photo)

( – National Security Advisor Susan Rice told students at American University in a speech on LGBT rights Wednesday that the “United States must continue to integrate LGBT rights into our government and foreign policy,” including “creating a more diverse national security workforce.”

“This is an issue that I’m particularly passionate about, and one that President Obama has prioritized,” Rice said, “because without tapping America’s full range of races, religions, ethnicities, social and economic experiences—without embracing people of every sexual orientation and gender identity—we’re leading in a complex world with one hand tied behind our back.” 

Rice, who once served as U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said that “whether we are talking about race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, this fight for equal rights is what our history and values demand.” 

“It is also profoundly in our interests,” she argued. “If we reduce the disparities that can lead to instability and violence, we increase our shared security.”

Rice praised the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) announcement Tuesday of a new rule “that explicitly prohibits discrimination by USAID contractors.”

“This rule means that any organization that contracts with USAID must ensure that all people can benefit from its federally-funded programs, regardless of race, religion, disability—or sexual orientation and gender identity,” she explained, calling the rule a “major step towards ensuring that American assistance is provided in a fair and equitable manner.” 

She called for the United States to continue working with “our partners in multilateral organizations to build international support for LGBT rights.”

“When we include language acknowledging sexual orientation in a UN resolution, or hold an unprecedented Security Council meeting on LGBT issues, we create new norms and expectations,” she emphasized. “We redefine what’s acceptable and what’s not.” 

“Last month, my husband and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary,” Rice shared. “For many couples, that might not seem remarkable, but we remember when we started dating almost 35 years ago that many people said that someone who looked like me shouldn’t marry someone who looked like him—that inter-racial marriage was unnatural and immoral. Stop me if that sounds familiar. 

“Somewhere in the world right now, there is a young boy lying awake at night guarding a secret he has kept for as long as he can remember,” Rice said. “Somewhere, there is a young woman who can love both men and women and has nobody to tell her that’s OK. 

“Somewhere, in the United States, there is a man who has always felt like a stranger in his own body. So, to every person who might still be struggling with who they are, trying to reconcile who they love with the faith or traditions they love, know this: we see you,” she said.

“We hear you,” Rice concluded. “We are here for you. And, on behalf of all those people—each of them a child of equal worth, a child of God—let us renew our efforts to battle discrimination in all its guises and embrace diversity in all its forms, until every one of us is truly treated equally—no matter who we are, where we live, or whom we love.”