The director of national intelligence joined with the FBI director and the top Pentagon spymaster on Wednesday to preside over the fifth annual Intelligence Community LGBTA Pride Summit held at the Defense Intelligence Agency in Southwest Washington.
Some 1,000 officers joined James Clapper, James Comey and Vincent Stewart for livestreamed panel discussions that allow lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees to “baseline best practices for maximizing their contributions to mission success and public service,” as an employee affinity group newsletter put it.
"When I spoke at this summit two years ago,” said Clapper, as previewed in an agency release, “I mentioned that I was serving in the Air Force when 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' was enacted. I am thankful that -- as a nation -- we have put that policy behind us. I won't dwell on the issue of transgender rights. I know our nation is currently engaged in a complex conversation, with strong feelings on both sides. But here in the IC, we have the chance to lead by example. So I'll say without equivocation -- in IC facilities, you can use whatever restroom you feel comfortable and safe in."
DIA Chief and Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Stewart said, "This summit isn't about a complicated, abstract idea. It's about treating others as we would like to be treated: with dignity, respect and kindness."
Before the Tuesday event, FBI chief Comey said, "Diversity enriches not just the FBI, not just the Intelligence Community, but our country as a whole. We must foster an environment where all of our employees are respected, are encouraged to be who they are, and are afforded every opportunity to thrive."
Topics for breakout sessions included "Seniors [senior officers] Helping Drive Change," "LGBT Ally Training," "Extended Enterprise Management: Getting Inclusive," "Boots to Rainbow Suits: Successfully Transitioning from Military to Civilian Life" and "Building Trans Inclusivity."
A first-name-only National Security Agency officer identified as Chris said, "Before joining the IC, I worked in the private sector and was proudly out. More than a decade ago, when I first joined the IC, the culture was still very conservative. I made a personal decision -- driven mostly by fear -- to go back into the closet. Since then, there has been incredible and tremendous positive change for LGBT employees in the IC -- so much so, in fact, that it inspired me to 'come out' again a few years ago and become a change agent myself, continuing the work of those who pioneered such transformation before me."
On Tuesday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch spoke at her department’s annual LGBT Pride Month, saying, “This year, we celebrate the final Pride Month of the Obama Administration. Over the course of these last eight years, we have made once-unimaginable progress on issues that have challenged our nation for decades and that have been deeply felt for centuries by individual Americans who often suffered in silence. In ways large and small – through the policies of this administration, through the undertakings of this department and through the actions of all of you here in this room today and across the country – we have bent the arc of the moral universe a little further towards justice.”