WASHINGTON – White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice said expanding the rights of the LBGT community would result in an increase of gross domestic product (GDP).
“Countries do better across every metric when they tap the talents of all their people. A 2014 USAID study estimates that expanding rights for a country’s LGBT population is associated with an increase in GDP. So, advancing equality is both morally right and strategically smart,” Rice said during an event last month at American University on “protecting and promoting” LGBT human rights across the world.
“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. 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,” she added.
According to USAID, “countries that discriminate against LGBT people are pushing entire groups of people out of the formal economy and reducing the economic gains they would otherwise enjoy if they were allowed to be productive members of society.”
Rice, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the LGBT rights issue is “deeply personal” for her, connecting it to the civil rights movement.
“As the daughter of proud citizens who suffered the indignities of Jim Crow, I never forget that I stand here today because those who came before me pried open doors that had long been shut to people who looked like me,” she said. “As a public servant and as a mother, I don’t want my children, or anyone else’s, to be limited by how they look, whom they worship or whom they love.”
In her speech, Rice highlighted the State Department’s record on equal rights, telling the audience that the agency would not pay for a same-sex diplomat’s partner to travel with them but a pet would be covered.
“Not long ago the State Department would pay for a diplomat’s pet to travel to his overseas post, but not his or her same-sex partner. In the event of an embassy evacuation, a diplomat’s loved one could even be left behind. I’m not making this up,” she said.
“Under President Obama, LGBT federal employees and their families now enjoy the same benefits as their coworkers. Federal contractors cannot discriminate against LGBT people. Transgender employees can obtain passports that accurately reflect their gender identity,” she added.
Rice also said the U.S. overall does not have a “perfect” record on the issue because it does business with countries that “do not respect” LGBT rights.
“I don’t pretend that the United States has a perfect record. Hardly – and, yes, in service of our national security interests we sometimes engage with governments that do not respect the rights we hold most dear,” she said. “But, I’m proud that when we’ve witnessed anti-LGBT violence or discrimination, the United States has put our opposition to this behavior front and center.”