LGBT rights advocates are expecting the State Department to announce Randy Berry to be named as the United State's first special envoy for LGBT rights during the week of February 23, they told BuzzFeed News.
The exact timing of the announcement depends on the completion of "whatever the last of their bureaucracy is," said one advocate who commented on background in order to discuss the announcement before it was public, but that it could come as early as Monday morning. A State Department spokesman did not immediately respond to a message from BuzzFeed News concerning the announcement.
The State Department has forwarded the name of Randy Berry, currently the consul general to the Netherlands, to the White House as the department's pick to be the United State's first special envoy for LGBT rights, a source familiar with the deliberation told BuzzFeed News on Friday.
Berry has overseen the United States' consulates in the Netherlands since 2012, according to his bio on the State Department website.
His most recent postings before that were in New Zealand and Nepal, but he has also served in countries with governments that have recently launched anti-LGBT crackdowns — including Uganda and Egypt.
Reached by email, Berry told BuzzFeed News he had "no comment to share" for this story. State Department spokesman Alec Gerlach said in an email, "We aren't going to have any comment to confirm who the envoy will be."
The post will be a lead spokesperson for promoting LGBT rights around the world, which has become a key priority for the Obama administration, as well as coordinating discussions on the issue within the department.
An unnamed State Department spokesperson told the Boston Globe on Thursday that the Obama administration would create the position. Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) had introduced legislation to establish the post, but its supporters agreed that it had little chance of passing in Congress.
This post has been updated to reflect the process for the appointment of a special envoy.
J. Lester Feder is a world correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. His secure PGP fingerprint is 2353 DB68 8AA6 92BD 67B8 94DF 37D8 0A6F D70B 7211
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Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.
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