The U.S. Department of State is committing to fighting homophobia and is looking for new ways it can protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens in countries around the world, including within the United States, Secretary John Kerry said during a "Pride at State" event held Wednesday.
Kerry also said his agency is actively preparing for the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
The court is expected to deliver an opinion on the federal law as early as Thursday. Kerry said he believes that, if the Supreme Court "adheres to law," it will deem DOMA unconstitutional.
The event was organized by the group Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies, which represents LGBT employees in the state department and other foreign affairs agencies.
Kerry mentioned President Barack Obama's and the United Nations' support of LGBT rights, and recent victories in the United States -- including the fall of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the military and the passage of same-sex marriage in a string of states.
But he also said the country has to be "clear-eyed about the challenges that still remain."
Especially overseas, there is much to be done to promote LGBT rights, including empowering younger generations to teach their elders about tolerance.
"As we look at various places in the world, where homophobia raises its ugly, frightened head, we see that there is fear," he said. "And a lot is driven by fear."
Defending LGBT rights globally will also mean addressing the needs of LGBT individuals in staunchly anti-gay countries and in decentralized refugee camps, Kerry said.
"We've got to be there, showing up in places where progress on LGBT rights has been harder and slower to achieve," he said.