Donald Trump has come up with another horrendously anti-LGBT nominee for a high government position — this time, a man who has argued that legalization of same-sex marriage will lead to legalization of pedophilia. Plus he’s a birther and a climate change denier.
Sam Clovis is Trump’s nominee to be undersecretary for research, education, and economics in the U.S. Department of Agriculture — the department’s chief scientist. He is currently senior White House adviser to the USDA.
He was nominated in July and awaits confirmation by the Senate, but his anti-LGBT record was scrutinized in a CNN article published Monday, based on research by the news channel’s KFile investigative team. A previous KFile investigation revealed his embrace of birtherism and his skepticism about climate change.
Clovis took these stands during his time as a talk show host, blogger, activist, and political candidate in Iowa. He was a professor of business administration at Morningside College in Sioux City until last year, and for a time he hosted a talk show called Impact With Sam Clovis on radio station KSCJ in that city, notes the Sioux City Journal. He ran for the Republican nomination for U.S. senator from Iowa in 2014, and he also sought the position of state treasurer. The comments documented by CNN are mostly from 2012 through 2014.
In a YouTube video from the time of his unsuccessful Senate campaign, Clovis is shown in a coffee shop, saying, “Someone who engages in LGBT behavior, sometimes — you know, and I don’t know what the science is on this, I think it’s still out — but as far as I, that we know, that is a choice they make, right. So we’re being asked to provide constitutional protections for behavior, a choice in behavior as opposed to a primary characteristic.”
He added, “If we protect LGBT behavior, what other behaviors are we going to protect? Are we going to protect pedophilia? Are we going to protect polyamorous marriage relationships? Are we going to protect people who have fetishes? I mean, what’s the logical extension of this?” He also said religion is under assault.
He made a similar “slippery slope” argument in a blog post in 2012, CNN reports, and in the same post asserted that employers should have the right to discriminate against LGBT people or refuse to cover contraceptives in employees’ health insurance, based on the employer’s religious beliefs.
“Businesses and their owners should be able to make decisions about who is employed if hiring people who do not behave in accordance with some deeply held religious belief system is at issue,” he wrote. “Just as the government should not force business owners or enterprises to provide contraceptives or morning-after pills because of religious beliefs, the government should not be in charge of hiring practices, either. Religious freedom, perhaps the most fundamental of all protected freedoms, must be free of government interference.”
At one point, Clovis also expressed concern that recognition of constitutional rights for LGBT people would mean ministers would be forbidden to preach against “alternative lifestyles.”
Clovis’s comments with racial overtones, also documented by CNN, include his embrace of the “birther” conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. and therefore not eligible to be president (Trump also promoted birtherism for years), and saying Obama was “given a pass” on controversial actions because he’s black. In a 2012 blog post, he asserted that Obama “wants to be a dictator and he wants to enslave all who are not part of his regime.” He also has called former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder “a racist black” and Tom Perez, secretary of Labor during the Obama administration, “a racist Latino.”
Additionally, Clovis has denied that climate change exists and said that people who believe in climate change are using it as an excuse to redistribute wealth. He has also questioned the sanity of several leading Democrats, including former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Regarding Clovis’s comments on LGBT rights, a USDA spokeswoman told CNN, “The Supreme Court settled the issue in 2015.” White House officials declined comment to CNN, and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said he still supports Clovis’s nomination.