Evangelicals demand Trump remove LGBT ‘activists’ from State Department

‘This is a repudiation of the Obama years,’ said Tony Perkins. (Washington Blade file photo by Lee Whitman)
esident of the Family Research Council Tony Perkins speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 21. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
esident of the Family Research Council Tony Perkins speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 21. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

BY MICHAEL K. LAVERS  |  Family Research Council President Tony Perkins this week urged President-elect Trump to remove State Department officials who support the promotion of LGBT rights abroad.

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Perkins in his letter to supporters accused President Obama of sending openly gay ambassadors “into countries that are culturally opposed to homosexuality.”

He incorrectly claimed in his letter that the current White House used foreign aid to “force nations opposed to homosexuality to change their laws to provide special protections for such behavior.” Perkins further proclaimed U.S. embassies around the world have flown the rainbow flag during the Obama administration.


The rainbow flag flew over U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius’ official residence in Hanoi after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that same-sex couples can marry in all 50 states. (Photo courtesy of Clayton Bond)

Perkins also said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “promoted abortion” and declared “reproductive healthcare a basic human rights.”

His letter linked to two speeches that Clinton gave in 2009 at a Planned Parenthood gala in Houston and at the State Department in 2010. “reproductive rights” for women. The only time Clinton specifically mentioned abortion is when she said in her Planned Parenthood speech that “the best way to make sure we reduce abortion is to provide access to safe family planning.”

“The incoming administration needs to make clear that these liberal policies will be reversed and the ‘activists’ within the State Department promoting them will be ferreted out and will be replaced by conservatives who will ensure the State Department focuses on true international human rights like religious liberty which is under unprecedented assault,” wrote Perkins.

Obama in 2011 directed agencies that implement U.S. foreign policy to promote LGBT rights abroad.

The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development manage the Global Equality Fund, a public-private partnership that seeks to promote LGBT rights abroad. Randy Berry in 2015 became the first special U.S. envoy for LGBT and intersex rights.

“To carry out this extreme agenda, the Obama administration has systematically filled the ranks of State with LGBTQ and abortion activists,” wrote Perkins. “Unless the next secretary of state is willing to resist and remove this embedded agenda, the promotion and protection of true human rights, like religious liberty, will continue to languish.”

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) last month asked Secretary of State John Kerry to formally apologize to the State Department employees who were fired during the so-called “lavender scare” in the 1950s and 1960s.

Perkins letter ‘beyond the pale’

Trump on Tuesday formally announced ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson’s nomination as secretary of state.

Perkins wrote that he doesn’t “see Tillerson cut from the same cloth as Clinton or Kerry.” He said he nevertheless has “concerns” about Tillerson’s nomination that stem from the fact he was a member of the Boy Scouts of America’s executive board when it voted to allow openly gay scouts into the organization in 2013.

“He must have the courage to stop the promotion of this anti-family, anti-life agenda, which is very much a question mark given that he capitulated to activists pushing to liberalize the Boy Scouts’ policy on homosexuality when he was at the helm of the organization,” wrote Perkins.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin in a sharply-worded press release said Perkins’ “proposal to ‘purge’ pro-LGBTQ employees from the State Department is beyond the pale.”

“Perkins is hatefully suggesting pro-equality, career civil servants be rounded up and sent packing for doing their jobs,” said Griffin. “The incoming administration should immediately denounce Perkins’ illegal and vindictive proposal.”

“The State Department plays a crucially important role in America’s efforts to advance LGBTQ human rights around the globe,” he added. “In countries with hostile anti-LGBTQ regimes — like Russia, Syria and Egypt — lives are literally at risk. Countless LGBTQ people depend on the State Department’s efforts, and we cannot and must not leave them behind.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the Family Research Council as a hate group.

Perkins is among the prominent social conservatives who endorsed Trump.

Jason Miller, a spokesperson for the Trump transition team, told the Washington Blade in a statement that “President-elect Trump campaigned on a message of unity in order to bring all Americans together.”

“To think that discrimination of any kind will be condoned or tolerated in a Trump administration is simply absurd and nothing more than the exploitation of certain groups for political purposes,” said Miller.

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