President Donald Trump’s choice of Mike Pompeo as his new secretary of state has sparked anger among LGBTQ rights groups, in part because of the Kansan’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
A former U.S.House member allied with the Tea Party, Pompeo blasted the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling legalizing marriage by LGBTQ people as “a shocking abuse of power” that “flew in the face of centuries of shared understanding of our Constitution.”
He offered similar anti-marriage equality sentiments at a Kansas State University appearance in 2014, saying, “I think as you look back at civilization, look back at history, you find the strength of these families having a father and a mother is the ideal condition for childbearing. If you’re asking for what is ideal, I think it’s being raised by a man and a woman.”
Rex Tillerson, fired by the president as America’s top diplomat, had been one of the few Trump officials to acknowledge LGBTQ Pride Month last June. Pompeo seems unlikely to do the same, given his history.
Although legislation ending the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy toward LGBTQ people serving in the armed forces had passed the year before he joined Congress in 2011, he nonetheless spoke out against the repeal.
“We cannot use military to promote social ideas that do not reflect the values of our nation,” he said.
As CIA director under Trump, he came under fire after the agency last year canceled an event at its headquarters where Judy and Dennis Shepard, parents of murdered gay student Matthew Shepard, had been scheduled to speak.
“The decision to nominate anti-LGBTQ Mike Pompeo could have serious consequences for the United States and LGBTQ people around the globe,” Griffin said in a statement on HRC’s website. “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.”
GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis expressed similar criticisms. She said she was especially concerned that as CIA director, Pompeo had consulted with the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as an anti-LGBTQ hate group.
“We have already seen a State Department under President Trump that has stayed silent and refused to take necessary steps to combat and condemn the growing epidemic of anti-LGBTQ violence around the world, and now that department will be helmed by someone with an extensive anti-LGBTQ record,” she said. “This extremism should have no place in the U.S. State Department.”