In what has become a familiar pattern, President Trump has shocked the nation by announcing a key personnel decision over Twitter: Rex Tillerson is out.
On Monday, Trump announced the former ExxonMobil CEO would be replaced by CIA Director Mike Pompeo following months of rumored tensions between Tillerson and the Commander-in-Chief. He infamously referred to Trump as a “moron” following a July 20 meeting with the Pentagon and members of the Cabinet.
The firing apparently came as a surprise to Tillerson. Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein claimed in a statement that Tillerson is “unaware of the reason” for his departure.
Whereas Tillerson was lauded as one of the few officials in the White House supportive of LGBTQ rights, Pompeo represents a sharp about-face for the Secretary of State’s office. Pompeo has spent his entire political career opposing equality for queer and trans people, opposing the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and has pushed legislation to rollback the Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling, calling the decision a “shocking abuse of power.”
On allowing LGBTQ troops to serve openly in the military, Pompeo claimed the government should not use the armed forces “to promote social ideas that do not reflect the values of our nation.”
“When you enter the army you give up a few of your rights,” he said in a 2013 Congressional Debate.
During Pompeo’s brief tenure at the CIA, the agency pulled a planned speech from Judy and Dennis Shepard over questions of “what value it would bring to the CIA mission.” The parents of Matthew Shepard, who was killed following a brutal hate crime in October 1998, were initially “invited to the CIA to talk about diversity and LGBTQ rights,” as Foreign Policy notes.
“The schedule was set, and the details arranged, but in the 11th hour, the senior leadership shut down the event,” the magazine reports.
But most alarmingly, the Republican has been described as a “good friend” to the Family Research Council, the hate group which urged Trump to sign a directive allowing people of faith to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals. In a January 2017 post on Pompeo’s appointment to the CIA, the organization lauded Pompeo as a “True Blue” legislatoror someone who can be counted on to promote its interests.
“At a time when our nation is threatened from every side, Pompeo’s sound judgments are just the kind we need,” the FRC said at the time.
It’s the FRC’s interests, however, which may be a cause of concern for LGBTQ people. The Washington, D.C.-based lobby group heavily promotes the widely debunked myth that trans-inclusive nondiscrimination protections lead to women and children being sexually assaulted in public restrooms.
In arguing for the need for bathroom bills like North Carolina’s semi-repealed HB 2, FRC claimed nondiscrimination laws threaten “the public safety of women and children by creating the legitimized access that sexual predators tend to seek.”
“It would be impossible for a young girl to determine whether or not the man in the restroom is a ‘peeping tom,’ a rapist, or a pedophile, and it is unconscionable for any legislator to purposefully place her in such a compromising position,” the FRC claimed in a since-removed post on its website, as the advocacy group GLAAD reports.
“No government should be so irresponsible as to deliberately compromise its citizenry’s safety and wellbeing in order to appease minority demands based on personal sexual preferences,” the group continued.
The organization also referred to the Girl Scouts’ decision to allow transgender children to join its ranks as “child abuse.”
FRC President Tony Perkins, one of the nation’s leading opponents of LGBTQ rights, believes that Target’s gender-inclusive bathrooms are leading to “crime scenes” in shopping centers across the country, referring to them as a “live rendition of CSI.”
Perkins has also compared queer and transgender people to terrorists, alcoholics, drug addicts, adulterers, and people who have sex with horses. He has claimed pedophilia is a “homosexual problem,” called the It Gets Better Project “disgusting,” and said that allowing LGBTQ people to serve openly in the military is akin to a mass shooting.
While GLAAD claimed in a statement that Pompeo “should have no place in the U.S. State Department” and the Human Rights Campaign said his appointment could have “serious consequences for… LGBTQ people around the globe,” at least one person is happy about the decision: Mike Pence.
In a press release, the vice president called Pompeo “a man of highest integrity with unquestionable qualifications who will do an outstanding job.”
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