Daniel Baer, an openly gay man who worked as a State Department official on international LGBT issues, was appointed as the next US ambassador to the Organization for Security & Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
On September 10 Baer stood next to his partner, Brian Walsh, as he was sworn in by Uzra Zeya, the assistant secretary of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
Baer commented on the job which will be stationed in Vienna:
Working on advancing human rights and democracy around the world, is, among other things, supporting the efforts of people elsewhere to leverage the fundamental building blocks of our nation’s success — and working to uphold these principles at home is an ongoing project that demands constant work and reinforces the source of strength and comparative advantage in the world.
Baer has spent the last few years traveling which he says helped him gain a greater appreciation for his American roots.
“The last few years traveling…have deepened my awe for how lucky I am to be an American,” Baer said as quoted by the Washington Blade. “Many was the time that my old boss…would lean over to me in the midst of some meeting with a less than democratic counterpart and say, ‘I’d rather have my talking points than his.’”
The OSCE operates as the largest regional security organization in the world. It conducts “political negotiations and decision-making in the fields of early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation, and puts the political will of its participating States into practice through its unique network of field missions,” as stated on the OSCE website.
President Obama suggested Baer be an ambassador to the OSCE in June and the US Senate made Baer’s position official in August.
The OSCE originally started in the early 1970’s during the Cold War and was focused on facilitating conversation and negotiation between the East and the West.
Some may view the OSCE as obsolete since the end of the Soviet Union, but Baer believes that the organization is still relevant.
“The OSCE was at its founding—and remains today—a unique regional security organization built on the empirically demonstrative truth that true security must be comprehensive, that security from violence and war, security from violations of human rights and denial of other freedoms, and economic and environmental security are distinct objectives, but they are not separable,” Baer said.
It was reported that Baer teared up when stating his sentiments as he recalled a time when he thought that his sexual orientation would prevent him from achieving his career goals.
Baer was surrounded by several friends and family members, including his grandmother at the ceremony in which he was sworn in. Zeya complimented Baer for his hard work at the State Department, especially though his work ensuring that there was freedom on the Internet across the world and for his dedication to international LGBT rights and equality.
“For Dan, the right to connect, the right to love and other fundamental human rights are not just ‘nice to do,’ but they’re ‘must haves’ for the sustainable advancement of U.S. national interests abroad,” Zeya stated.
Baer was a part of the initiative to help launch the State Department’s Global Equality Fund which supports the advancement of LGBT rights overseas.
Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin, Human Rights First president, Elisa Massimino, as well as the Ukraine Ambassador to the United States, Olexander Motsyk were all in attendance during Baer’s ceremony.