Donald Trump hasn’t recognized LGBT Pride Month, but new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has, even though he’s not exactly known as a friend to LGBT people.
The United States joins people around the world in celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) Pride Month, and reaffirms its commitment to protecting and defending the human rights of all, including LGBTI persons.
In many parts of the world, LGBTI individuals and their supporters continue to face violence, arrest, harassment and intimidation for standing up for their human rights, participating in peaceful marches and rallies, expressing their views, and simply being who they are. LGBTI persons – like all persons – must be free to enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association, without fear of reprisal. As Americans, we place a high value on these rights and freedoms, which all persons deserve to enjoy fully and equally.
The United States stands firmly with you as you exercise your human rights and fundamental freedoms. We wish you a safe and happy Pride Month.
Pompeo also tweeted about Pride Month:
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) June 1, 2018
Pompeo’s predecessor as secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, had issued a statement for Pride Month last year. Tillerson, who was fired by Trump in March, was not a huge LGBT ally – he had previously headed ExxonMobil, one of the last Fortune 500 companies to adopt an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policy. But he had lobbied the Boy Scouts of America, where he was president from 2010 to 2012, to lift its ban on gay members, and as secretary of State he recognized not only Pride Month but Transgender Day of Remembrance. Beyond this, under his watch the State Department issued a statement of concern about the purge of gay and bisexual men in the Russian republic of Chechnya, which is more than Trump has done.
As a congressman, Pompeo opposed marriage equality and supported “license to discriminate” legislation. He also spoke out against allowing openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual people in the military, even though “don’t ask, don’t tell” had been repealed by the time he joined Congress in 2011. Before his appointment as secretary of State, he was CIA director, and there he consulted with anti-LGBT activist Tony Perkins and canceled an event at which Judy and Dennis Shepard, parents of murdered gay college student Matthew Shepard, were scheduled to speak about diversity and LGBT rights. He is known for anti-Muslim statements as well.
Many LGBT activists and political allies opposed his confirmation as secretary of State. During his confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate, Democratic Sens. Cory Booker and Jeanne Shaheen pressed him on his anti-LGBT and anti-Muslim views, and Pompeo refused to repudiate them but said he would treat all people with dignity and respect. They and several other Democrats voted against his confirmation, but he was nonetheless confirmed in April by a vote of 57-42.