David Huebner, openly LGBT former ambassador, visits USC

first_imgPersona non grata · David Huebner, the first openly LGBT ambassador confirmed by the U.S. Senate, spoke to students on campus Wednesday about the difficulties he faced as a gay diplomat in New Zealand. – Anastasia Velicescu | Daily TrojanTo begin his presentation to the International Relations Undergraduate Association and Residential Student Government on Wednesday, former United States Ambassador David Huebner gave a traditional speech in Maori, honoring the spirits who came before him and the land on which he stood.“We are nothing without those who came before us,” Huebner said. “And in that way, I am nothing without those who came before me, and those who will come after me.”Huebner has worked in a variety of roles, from practicing law at Arnold & Porter LLP in Los Angeles to opening his own law firm in China, along with founding the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. His greatest accolade came in 2009, when Huebner became the first openly LGBT person to be sworn in as an ambassador by the U.S. Senate.This was the focus of the first half of Huebner’s talk — how social justice and public policy intersect for an openly gay U.S. diplomat. Throughout his career as an ambassador, Huebner encountered incidents of discrimination. When he was first appointed as the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, same-sex marriage was illegal in both countries. He was on the hit list of multiple militias. Huebner’s husband was barred from benefits typically given to spouses of U.S. diplomats and, therefore, couldn’t work as a physician when the couple lived in New Zealand. Several of the senior officers in the embassy held meetings without him, discussing their concerns that Huebner would “turn the embassy too gay.”Huebner was not discouraged by this discrimination. Instead, he took it as a challenge and watched as the attitudes in those countries adapted through the years he worked with them.“Being out is the single most powerful statement an LGBT person can make,” Huebner said. “If you are out and visible, social justice occurs.”After presenting briefly for 20 minutes, Huebner opened the floor to questions from the  approximately 40 students in attendance. The questions ranged from how Huebner, a leader in political social media usage, used Twitter as a diplomatic tool to how ambassadors can affect policy in the countries they work in. He spoke in depth about the impact he had in New Zealand as a communicator and an advisor.“It’s not a diplomat’s role to make policy, but if you’re good enough at communicating, you can certainly influence policy,” Huebner said. “We don’t all think the same way. But if you listen and are willing to truly hear the needs of those who you’re working with, you will be able to find common ground.”The event was organized by sophomore RSG Social Justice and Inclusion Coordinator Jackie Kim, who met Huebner last spring at a Pacific Council luncheon covering international policy and invited him to campus last spring. Kim felt that Huebner’s unique approach to diplomacy and his passion for reaching out to future leaders would be a perfect fit for USC students. Huebner’s talk was part of IRUA’s career month and echoed RSG’s focus on sponsoring events that support diversity and inclusivity while developing social justice across campus.“He has experience and insight from his ‘nontraditional’ experience in the foreign service to offer to USC students,” Kim said. “Getting more exposure to USC students is something he really enjoys. He was impressed with the attentiveness and engagement of the students at the event.”As a final question, Kim asked Huebner to share what he saw as his legacy — both as a diplomat and as an LGBT leader. But Huebner told students that their legacies should be at the back of their minds as they approach a future in diplomacy.“Don’t go into a job worried about your legacy,” Huebner said. “I like to think about my career as being shot out of a cannon. My main fear was just don’t screw it up. Whenever you’re the first, you can’t make mistakes. But I think the thing I had was being unabashedly who I am. That, if anything, was my legacy.”Correction: This article previously stated that Huebner began the event by speaking Samoan. He spoke Maori. The article also stated that sodomy was illegal in New Zealand and Samoa when Huebner took office. Same-sex marriage was illegal. The article has also been updated to reflect that Huebner faced incidents of discrimination, not discrimination “at every turn.” The Daily Trojan regrets the errors.last_img read more

Barkley is cautionary tale at NFL combine

first_imgIf you told me a year ago that Matt Barkley wasn’t going to throw at the NFL Scouting Combine, I wouldn’t have batted an eye. Former top picks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III also decided against showing off their arms at the league’s annual scouting bonanza, and it has been a popular choice among quarterbacks in past years to refrain as well.But when news came out this weekend that Barkley’s record-setting right arm would be out of commission, I couldn’t help but shake my head.Barkley still hasn’t fully healed from a separated right shoulder, casting further doubt on his status as an NFL prospect. Though he was once a lock to be the first pick in the draft, most analysts don’t rank the Pac-12’s all-time leader in touchdown passes among this year’s top-30 prospects.What a difference a year makes.Perhaps the All-American can recover from this setback and have a prosperous NFL career. Last season notwithstanding, Barkley excelled throughout his high school and college playing days and surely has the potential to do so at the professional level.But when a player’s draft stock falls as far as Barkley’s has, one has to wonder whether or not he will serve as a cautionary tale against turning down millions to return to school instead of bolting for the NFL.Barkley had many noble reasons to return to school last winter. He wanted a chance to play in a bowl game, to finish what he started in resurrecting a program that had been hammered by sanctions. He wanted to win a national championship, and he decided that the NFL could wait.Call it bad luck, but since making that decision, every potential risk has become a reality: USC had one of the worst seasons as a team in recent memory and, even before his injury, Barkley’s play slipped enough to cause a noticeable dip in his draft evaluation. By the end of the season, you would be hard-pressed to find anybody who thought his decision to return was a smart one.I understand that had USC won more games and Barkley played better, his choice would be viewed differently. But in hindsight, I don’t see how any player can turn down the type of sure-fire money that Barkley did in future years. It seems that this line of thinking is at least beginning to creep into the minds of some potential future top prospects.Recently, rumors began to spread that University of South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney had considered sitting out next season in order to prepare for the 2014 NFL draft and avoid the risk of getting injured. Clowney is currently a sophomore and therefore ineligible for this year’s draft, though many believe that, if he were eligible, he would be the consensus first pick.This idea of getting out while you can is nothing new. Last year’s draft saw a record 65 players declare early, eclipsing the previous record of 56, which was set in 2011. In 2004, Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett and USC wide receiver Mike Williams attempted to declare for the draft after their sophomore seasons and were disallowed. Because the pair had already signed agents, they were also deemed ineligible to play their junior seasons of college football.Now, most would counter these examples with the infamous JaMarcus Russell, the first pick in the 2007 NFL draft and one of the most notable draft “busts” of all time. Russell left Lousiana State University one year early and made just 25 career starts in the NFL before being released.To most, his case is evidence that players should not leave college until they’re ready, and this idea definitely makes sense. But the way I see it, JaMarcus Russell was never going to be ready to play in the NFL. At least he made that clear only after signing his $61-million contract.I know the benefits of returning to school instead of going to the draft: the possibility of BCS glory, the chance to refine your skills and just one more year of being the big man on campus are all enticing. But to me, the risk outweighs the reward.Barkley’s decision to come back was, in many ways, a selfless act. But because he chose to return, the lasting image of Barkley at USC will be of him standing on the sidelines in street clothes as the team that he turned down millions to play for embarrassed itself against Georgia Tech in El Paso, Texas. He deserved better than that, and I hope that the cautionary tale of Barkley will someday turn into a comeback story for the ages. “Inside the 20s” runs Thursdays. To comment on this story, email Nick at [email protected] or visit dailytrojan.com.last_img read more

Senate Wants Konneh to Apologize

first_imgFinance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh yesterday refused to apologize to the Senate for the contents of a letter written to that body by his Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs, Dr. James Kollie.He said he did not violate any portion of the Constitution when his ministry informed the lawmakers of decisions it needed to take to help the downturn in the economy. Minister Konneh, who appeared before Plenary of the Senate along with Deputy Kollie, apologized for the wordings in paragraph four of his letter dated January 21, and not the context of the letter.The paragraph in question reads: “Due to the urgency to complete processing allotments for the quarter, we request a prompt response with information on how the adjustment should be distributed in your budget. Notwithstanding, if you do not respond with regard to said distribution by 4 p.m. Wednesday, January 27th, we will use our discretion to reallocate the amount appropriately and proceed with the processing of allotment the remainder of the 3rd quarter. “But during the single item hearing yesterday, Minister Konneh remained resolute against offering an apology, saying that except for the portion of the letter he agreed was not appropriate for the lawmakers, everything else mentioned were in line with both the Public Finance Management Law, crafted by the Senate, and the Constitution. Besides Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper who went into a lengthy grilling of the Minister, other Senators attempted to steer the Minister to apologize and even quoted some provisions of the Constitution.Minister Konneh refused to yield and maintained that he did not violate any part of the Constitution. “I cannot apologize for something that I did not do,” he stated. The Senators’ contention with the letter is that the Minister, who from the onset of the hearing told the Senators that he was taking full responsibility for the letter, thus saving his deputy from the expected wrath of the lawmakers, had indeed violated the Constitution by apportioning to himself the responsibility that is solely theirs – appropriation of the budget. Minister Konneh, however, argued that such was not the case, and told the Senators that what was contained in the letter was a proposal.In their unanimous vote on a motion by Senator Nyonblee Lawrence, the Senators, however, agreed that Minister Konneh must appear on Thursday, February 4, along with his lawyer, to face a legislative contempt hearing. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Rep VanWoerkom announces July coffee hours

first_img Categories: VanWoerkom News State Rep. Greg VanWoerkom, of Norton Shores, recently announced where he will be available to meet with Muskegon County residents during scheduled coffee hours for the month of July.“Listening to the needs and concerns of residents in my district is one of the most important aspects of my job,” Rep. VanWoerkom said. “I hope you will join me at one of my upcoming hours and share what’s on your mind.”Rep. VanWoerkom will be available Friday, July 26, from 8 to 9 a.m. at Fruitport Township Hall, 5865 Airline Road in Fruitport. Additionally, VanWoerkom will be available on Monday, July 29 at the following times and locations:8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at Cedar Creek Township Hall, 6556 Sweeter Road in Twin Lake; and10 to 11 a.m. at Blue Lake Township Hall, 1491 Owasippe Road in Twin Lake.No appointments are necessary. Those who are unable to attend at the scheduled times, but would like an opportunity to talk with Rep. VanWoerkom may call his office at (517) 373-3436 or email [email protected]### 23Jul Rep. VanWoerkom announces July coffee hourslast_img read more