State Dept. releases 'equity action plan,' promotes LGBT causes in foreign policy

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on the Biden administration's priorities for U.S. foreign policy on Capitol Hill on March 10, 2021 in Washington, D.C.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on the Biden administration's priorities for U.S. foreign policy on Capitol Hill on March 10, 2021 in Washington, D.C. | Ken Cedeno-Pool/Getty Images

The U.S. Department of State has announced the various ways it will implement President Joe Biden's executive order tasking agencies to advance equity through the federal government, which includes "advancing gender equity and equality." 

The White House released a fact sheet Wednesday that outlined two of Biden's executive orders on equity, stating that "the Biden-Harris Administration is working to advance opportunity and make real the promise of America for everyone." 

One of the orders tasked federal and cabinet-level agencies with addressing "systemic racism in our Nation's policies and programs." Multiple agencies, including the State Department, have started releasing Equity Action Plans annually, and more than 65 small and independent agencies released plans in 2022. 

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On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a statement outlining its 2023 Equity Action Plan, adding that the department has worked to advance "equity" in foreign policy throughout the past year. 

"With today's release of the 2023 Equity Action Plan, the Department continues to implement these executive orders with five global strategic focus areas: pursuing diplomatic efforts to combat hate and protect inclusive democracy; advancing racial equity and justice; protecting LGBTQI+ persons; promoting respect for international disability rights; and advancing gender equity and equality," Blinken stated. 

"These strategic focus areas bolster the Department's enterprise-wide approach to integrating equity and inclusion operationally in foreign assistance; foreign policy development and implementation; public diplomacy; consular services; and procurement, contracts, and grants," the secretary of state continued.

"Embedding equity in our work yields better outcomes for the American people," he added. "We will continue to work to break down barriers faced by marginalized and underserved populations."

The U.S. Department of State did not immediately respond to The Christian Post's request for comment. 

According to the document outlining the department's 2023 Equity Plan, the agency tasks "equity principals" with advancing equity for certain marginalized populations. These equity principals are senior department officials appointed to lead U.S. foreign affairs efforts, according to the action plan. 

"The strategies target challenges and opportunities for specific communities, including compounded and intersectional discrimination experienced by individuals from multiple and overlapping marginalized groups," the document states. "Each Equity Principal's approach to implementing the Plan ensures authenticity and accountability through public participation, community engagement, and accessibility." 

The 2023 Equity Action Plan also highlighted the department's progress in advancing equity, including a U.S. mission to Catholic-majority Poland that consisted of leading as a "Likeminded Embassies Coordinator on LGBTQI+ issues as ally embassies to combat hate and promote an inclusive environment." 

According to a 2023 fact sheet, the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw organized meetings with diplomatic contacts to discuss LGBT rights and support the initiatives of LGBT organizations. 

In addition, the U.S. ambassador hosted an event that included representatives from national and local governments to highlight "the importance of tolerance and the contributions of the LGBTQI+ community to Poland's response to the Ukraine refugee crisis."

The department's 2022 Equity Action Plan highlighted what it described as the "inclusion of equity" in foreign assistance programs, noting that the planned foreign investments for the fiscal year 2022 totaled $56.8 million spread across all geographic regions. 

"This complements existing tracking of programs and planned investments for other marginalized populations, such as Indigenous groups, LGBTQI+ communities, women and girls, persons with disabilities, children in adversity, young and emerging leaders, and religious Minorities," the 2022 Action Plan states. 

The 2022 plan also highlighted in the "Consular Services" section that the department started issuing "gender X" passport books for trans-identified individuals in April 2022. The department shared that it was working to allow the "X" selection on other passport and citizenship forms. 

"The highest priority of the Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) is to protect the lives and serve the interests of U.S. citizens abroad. As such, the bureau is committed to providing more equitable and more accessible consular services to U.S. citizens," the line beneath the section heading stated.

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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