The Foreign Service Journal, September 2009

S E P T E M B E R 2 0 0 9 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 7 Don’t Publish Hate Mail I am writing to object to your deci- sion to publish the letter from retired FSO Richard Hoover (“Don’t En- courage Them!”) that appeared in your July-August issue. When Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton took office in Janu- ary, 2,200 current and former em- ployees of foreign affairs agencies presented her with a letter asking that they be “treated equally and with the same respect,” regardless of sexual orientation. What made this docu- ment truly historic was the gay- straight alliance formed in the work- place: 92 percent of the signatories did not have a Member of House- hold, meaning they were either sin- gle or married to someone of the opposite gender. Wherever U.S. diplomats are post- ed overseas, we showcase to host com- munities an example of successful in- tegration: different races, different religions, different ages and different sexual orientations working together effectively. The men and women of our Foreign Service truly believe in the very American value of “E Pluribus Unum.” Promotion of diversity is not a Re- publican value or a Democratic value; it is an American value. When Presi- dent Ronald Reagan selected Edward Perkins as ambassador to South Africa, he did not worry that the appointment of an African-American would be “un- acceptable,” as Mr. Hoover puts it, to the apartheid government. When Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama chose their respective Secretaries of State, they did not fear that sending a woman overseas might “project controversial views.” And last November’s results show that when we elected our first African-American president, most vot- ers did not think that installing a mi- nority candidate as head of state would “serve to undermine our work abroad.” Today I woke up to my alarm clock, ate some cereal, drove to work, wrote a report and attended some meetings. On my way home, I will purchase milk and fruit. Later, I will make a phone call to my partner, who is unable to join me at this post. It is unclear which of these are the “habits” that Mr. Hoover claims are “unacceptable to most American taxpayers.” The State Department does not re- spect host-country biases when it as- signs lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans- gender staff to overseas posts, any more than it respects host-country bi- ases concerning gender, race or reli- gion. Today’s Foreign Service shows the diversity of our nation better than ever before. From Khartoum to Kabul, our LGBT staff are proudly volunteering to serve their country. Wherever they are assigned, they — and their straight colleagues — are showing how diverse groups of Amer- icans work side by side to advance freedom and basic human rights for all. I cannot imagine that any other mi- nority group would have to open the Foreign Service Journal to see letters that call on the department not to hire “greater numbers of those.” I would ask that from this day forward, there should similarly be no room in the Journal for such hurtful words towards LGBT staff. Selim Ariturk Economic Officer Embassy Baku Editor’s Note: We respectfully dis- agree with Mr. Ariturk’s assertion that we published hate mail. When an AFSA member submits a letter re- sponding to an item in the FSJ — in this case, a May Speaking Out column that strongly advocated fair treatment for LGBT Foreign Service employees and their partners — our normal pol- icy is to publish it (subject to editing, of course). Further, as our masthead (p. 4) in each issue states:“Material appearing herein represents the opinions of the writers, and does not necessarily rep- resent the views of the Journal , the Ed- itorial Board or AFSA.” Through the Looking Glass Thank you for the criticism of the Employee Evaluation Review process in June’s Speaking Out column, L ETTERS