The U.S. has become a “homo-empire” in thrall to a “tyrannical LGBT agenda,” in the words of Merritt Corrigan, the recently appointed White House deputy liaison to the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Corrigan, yet another in Donald Trump’s string of anti-LGBTQ+ and antifeminist appointees, made the comment on her Twitter account last year, Politico reports. “Our homo-empire couldn’t tolerate even one commercial enterprise not in full submission to the tyrannical LGBT agenda,” she wrote, in what could be a reference to a business turning away LGBTQ+ customers or perhaps a business boycott. Her Twitter account is now accessible only to her approved followers.
She has also denounced feminism. In an article for the British publication The Conservative Woman in 2019, she wrote, “The false song of feminism (to borrow a phrase) has doubled our burden, and stolen from us the pursuit of our fundamental purpose, the fulfilment of our biological imperative to be mothers.” She called family planning “little more than a euphemism for killing one’s unborn child” and longed for the days when women’s bodies were “the sacred possession of husbands who could protect and serve us.” She concluded, “It’s time for women to return to the home, where we rightfully belong and where real joy and fulfilment await.”
Corrigan, however, has had an active career outside the home. Before joining USAID, which promotes democracy and economic development abroad, she worked for the Hungarian Embassy in the U.S., and prior to that was a staffer for the Republican National Committee, ProPublica reports.
While working for the embassy, she praised Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban as “the shining champion of Western civilization.” Orban is a far-right leader who has cracked down on a variety of civil liberties, and Hungarian society is deeply homophobic and transphobic. The nation’s Parliament recently passed a law preventing transgender people from changing their gender on official documents; Orban has claimed the new law will help to avoid confusion.
Corrigan is not the only controversial recent USAID appointee. The agency’s new deputy chief of staff, Bethany Kozma, is an anti-trans activist. In 2016 and 2017 articles for The Daily Signal, a right-wing site, she condemned President Barack Obama’s “transgender agenda” and praised the Trump administration’s removal of Obama-era guidance that recommended trans students be allowed to use their preferred names, pronouns, and facilities in public schools.
Mark Lloyd, who became USAID’s religious freedom adviser in May, has shared several anti-Muslim posts on social media, according to The Washington Post. And John Barsa, its acting administrator, objected to the inclusion of “sexual and reproductive health” in a United Nations plan for response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is a Change.org petition demanding the removal of Corrigan, Kozma, and Lloyd. But the agency is standing by them. “I want to specifically condemn the unwarranted and malicious attacks on Deputy Chief of Staff Bethany Kozma, Deputy White House Liaison Merritt Corrigan, and Religious Freedom Advisor Mark Lloyd,” said a statement released Monday by Barsma. “USAID is honored to have Bethany Kozma, Merritt Corrigan, and Mark Lloyd serve at the agency. They are committed to enacting the policies of President Donald J. Trump.”
Acting USAID spokesperson Pooja Jhunjhunwala had said the agency has a “zero-tolerance policy of any form of discrimination or harassment based on gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or any other possible distinguishing characteristic that can define any of us.”