The LGBT community may have just lost one of our greatest allies in the Trump administration. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been given the boot by Donald Trump, and his replacement Mike Pompeo is sadly a politician with a long history of anti-LGBT stances and positions.
Last year, Tillerson condemned violence against the LGBTQI community in a statement acknowledging Transgender Day of Remembrance. “On Transgender Day of Remembrance, the United States honors the memory of the many transgender individuals who have lost their lives to acts of violence,” Tillerson said.
“Transgender individuals and their advocates, along with lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex persons, are facing increasing physical attacks and arbitrary arrests in many parts of the world,” the statement said. “Often these attacks are perpetrated by government officials, undermining the rule of law.”
Tillerson added that transgender people “should not be subjected to violence or discrimination, and the human rights they share with all persons should be respected.”
He also pledged that the United States “remains committed to advancing the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons. These principles are inherent in our own Constitution and drive the diplomacy of the U.S.”
More than just words, the State Department under Tillerson continued to promote LGBT and intersex rights abroad, even as the rest of Trump administration’s stance on LGBT issues in the U.S. outraged many. The position of the special U.S. envoy for the human rights of LGBT and intersex people remained in place under Tillerson.
Last summer, Tillerson publicly acknowledged LGBT Pride month. He also raised awareness about the ongoing crackdown against LGBT people in Chechnya, writing a letter to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The State Department under Tillerson also expressed concern over anti-LGBT crackdowns in Azerbaijan, Egypt and other countries as well.
Even before he was in politics, Tillerson was pro-LGBT with the various organizations he worked with. In 2013, Tillerson was a member of the Boy Scouts of America’s executive board when it voted to allow openly gay scouts into the organization. And then in 2015, as CEO of ExxonMobil, he added sexual orientation and gender identity to the company’s nondiscrimination policy.
Trump today announced that he had booted Tillerson after a long period of bitter disagreement, and replaced him with former Republican lawmaker and current head of the CIA Mike Pompeo.
Pompeo sponsored a number of anti-LGBT bills while a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Kansas’s 4th district. While serving in the House, the lawmaker was a co-sponsor of the State Marriage Defense Act, a proposed law that would have allowed states to continue to refuse to recognize same-sex unions.
He also co-sponsored the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, which would have issued a ‘license to discriminate’ against LGBT people based on religion.
Pompeo opposed the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” Defending the law, he claimed that “when you enter the army you give up a few of your rights”, adding, “we cannot use military to promote social ideas that do not reflect the values of our nation.”
When the U.S. Supreme Court found that gay couples had a constitutional right to get married, Mike Pompeo said he was “deeply saddened” by the ruling, branding it a “shocking abuse of power”.
He said: “Creating, out of nowhere, a federal right to marry, flies in the face of centuries of shared understanding of our Constitution.
“It is a shocking abuse of power. It is wrong. I will continue to fight to protect our most sacred institutions; Kansans and our nation deserve no less.”
On Tuesday, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) noted Pompeo has long opposed LGBT rights. HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement Pompeo’s “longstanding opposition to LGBTQ equality makes him a reckless choice to lead our nation’s diplomatic efforts.”
“The decision to nominate anti-LGBTQ Mike Pompeo could have serious consequences for the United States and LGBTQ people around the globe,” added Griffin. The State Department has a crucial role to play in advancing human rights — a role which was already rapidly declining under Tillerson. This decision has the potential to make a dire situation even worse. Pompeo does not deserve to be confirmed.”