Mike Pompeo Doesn't Deserve to Be Secretary of State

Pompeo

I will cut to the chase. Mike Pompeo has ties to anti-LGBTQ hate and extremism that makes him wholly unqualified to be U.S. Secretary of State.

This Thursday, CIA Director Mike Pompeo will appear in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations for questioning as part of the confirmation process to become secretary of State. His extensive anti-LGBTQ record includes opposing marriage equality and the repeal of "don’t ask, don’t tell" as well as calling same-sex parents less "ideal."

But far more concerning are his ties to the anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council. The anti-LGBTQ hate and extremism of FRC led to the Southern Poverty Law Center to designate it an anti-LGBTQ hate group in 2010. FRC has openly supported Uganda’s efforts to punish and execute LGBTQ citizens — known as the “kill the gays” bill — claiming the heinous legislation “uphold[s] moral conduct.” It also promotes and defends the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy and actively opposed repealing laws that criminalized being gay.

Mike Pompeo consulted with FRC during his time as CIA director and has earned its endorsement and praise throughout his career; he is even a regular guest on FRC president Tony Perkins’s anti-LGBTQ radio program.

Make no mistake: These are the advisers who would follow Mike Pompeo to the State Department if he is confirmed — something that our nation cannot afford. 

What messages would it send to the world to have our top diplomat hold such close ties to anti-LGBTQ extremism that runs counter to the State Department’s stated central goal of protecting human rights?

Being gay is still criminalized in 72 countries. Transgender people face violence and death at home and abroad merely for living their truth. We cannot afford to move backwards on LGBTQ rights when so much is at stake.

We are currently facing deeply troubling times with anti-LGBTQ state violence and discrimination. Authorities in Chechnya have detained and attacked over 100 LGBTQ citizens because of their perceived sexual orientation and 27 men have reportedly been killed by Chechen government officials. At least 141 people were arrested in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta during a May 2017 raid that was part of a county-wide anti-LGBTQ crackdown. In Azerbaijan, police carried out mass arrests of as many as 100 LGBTQ people.

Similar crises are happening in Egypt, Russia, Ghana, Bangladesh, and beyond. In these deeply troubling times, our country needs a secretary of State who can address these human rights violations with good faith and credibility, two qualities Mike Pompeo has long since lost.

Americans on both sides of the aisle wish to preserve America's global standing and advance our national interests. This standing will fall should someone so clearly unable to champion human rights be named our secretary of State.

It is vital for members of the committee to be the voices of America’s people and hold Mike Pompeo accountable for his ties to the extreme anti-LGBTQ agenda of the Family Research Council

To all senators who have the powerful opportunity to question Pompeo during his confirmation hearing: Ask him if he believes that LGBTQ rights are human rights. Ask him if he believes that protecting the human rights of the LGBTQ people abroad is an important aspect of U.S. foreign policy and diplomacy. Ask him to denounce the extremism of the Family Research Council.

The American people deserve to see the full scope of the anti-LGBTQ views held by the person President Trump is seeking to name as our nation’s chief diplomat. Together we must ensure that anti-LGBTQ hate does not become one of our nation’s exports.

ZEKE STOKES is vice president of programs at GLAAD.

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