Justice, State Departments Hosting Gay Pride Events This Week

The Justice Department is holding its annual pride event; Secretary Kerry will address LGBT personnel issues.

US Attorney General Eric Holder stands between singer/songwriter Melissa Etheridge, right, and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., the first openly gay senator, as she addresses the Justice Department's LGBT Pride Month event at the Justice Department.

The departments of Justice and State this week are holding back-to-back LGBT events in honor of gay pride month, and as the Supreme Court prepares to deliver two landmark decisions on same-sex marriage.

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On Tuesday, the Justice Department celebrated pride with speeches from Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., the first openly gay member of the Senate, singer-songwriter and gay and lesbian activist Melissa Etheridge, and Attorney General Eric Holder, all on the theme "A Year of Firsts," according to DOJPride.com, the official site for LGBT Employees at the department.

And on Wednesday, the State Department will follow suit with its own pride event in which Secretary John Kerry will deliver his first speech on LGBT policy and personnel issues.

"This is an opportunity for Secretary Kerry to state his position and confirm his support for LGBT employees," says Aaron Jensen, a spokesman for the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. "The thrust of his speech will be that he's equally committed to the steps Secretary Clinton took on this."

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After speaking, Kerry will answer questions submitted by State Department employees abroad, such as if and when health insurance and travel benefits will be provided for same-sex foreign partners.

The event, which is being put on by the group Gays and Lesbian in Foreign Affairs Agencies, an official resource group for LGBT employees at State and other government agencies, will also feature speeches by transgender activist Mara Keisling and civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., as well as a performance of the National Anthem by the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington's a capella group Potomac Fever.

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