Remarks by Administrator Mark Green at the USAID LGBTI Pride Month Event

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Hello, everyone, it really is good to be here with all of you to help celebrate Pride. There's a saying, "Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common." I think that's right. And I think it should and must be celebrated. We all have unique skills, experiences, viewpoints, and life experiences. Those differences enrich us. Those differences make us stronger.

In terms of our work here at USAID, diversity is essential to what you've heard me say ad nauseam in the journey to self-reliance. As I have said before, no nation can truly be self-reliant in any meaningful sense of that term if it leaves a community of its population behind or on the sidelines, if it doesn't embrace all of its citizens and harness their unique perspectives and skills. In civil society and governance terms, no democracy is representative unless it listens to all of its voices. No nation can possibly reach its full potential unless it taps all of its people for the leadership it needs, especially during these often challenging times.

And few people remind me of this more than our friend Jim Kolbe. And originally when I got the news about Jim's health challenge, (inaudible) I'll have to cancel this event. And of course, as you can imagine, Jim Kolbe said, "No, absolutely this must go forward." That's how passionate he is, and naturally the best way I think to pay tribute to him in the cause which brings us here today.

I was looking forward to introducing Jim. I've known Jim a very long time. We served together in the House, we worked together in IRI, and I know I see some of my former colleagues from IRI here. Unfortunately, he has a health challenge, but I assure you Jim is a tough old bird.

He'll be back in the saddle soon.

As many of you know, Jim was just the second openly gay Republican to serve in Congress. And he was the first openly gay person to address the Republican National Convention. Jim Kolbe shattered stereotypes. Jim Kolbe really did cause those of us who are Republicans to stop and think and reflect. His unique perspective in Congress made Congress better, made Congress stronger. His leadership made our nation better. He is a passionate defender of human rights and dignity for all people. And he is an inspiring example to us all.

Over the many years Jim and I have worked together time and again. We have traveled together to the far reaches of this world. And Jim really did put into action his belief in human dignity. His belief in the potential of every human being. And his belief that it took every community, every voice, every experience, every background to get to the answers that we need as a nation. And I think that is something that we do need to celebrate and remind ourselves of over and over again, not just on special occasions that bring us together, but each and every day.

So, we wish him well and we pray for a speedy recovery. But as I said, I know Jim way too well. He's a tough guy and he will be back at it, and we will hear his voice. And we will certainly have him here very soon.

Before I turn it back to (inaudible) though, I wanted to take a moment to touch upon two things. Number one, we will hear a bit about some of the challenges in Bangladesh. And we will hear -- we will pay tribute to the memory of our fallen comrades, Xulhaz Mannan. And as you all know, he was a fantastic member of our USAID team who also was a tireless advocate. And of course, he was targeted for and eventually murdered for his advocacy and his belief in inclusive developments and the rights of all people. And so, it is appropriate that we take a moment to remember and celebrate him and all that he brought to us.

But finally, I want to say thank you to all of my LGBTI colleagues who are here today. Your voice is important individually, but also together. Your advocacy and your voice individually and all together makes us a stronger agency and it makes us a better agency, and I think makes us a more responsive agency.

And so, from the bottom of my heart thank you. Thank you for what you do each and every day. And thank you for helping to make this a better team and a more representative team. Thank you.

Ronald Reagan Building, Washington DC

Last updated: December 14, 2018

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