October 5, 2022 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Tillerson declines to say whether ‘gay rights are human rights’

President-elect Trump’s nominee for secretary of state on Wednesday declined to specifically say whether “gay rights are human rights.”

“American values don’t accommodate violence or discrimination against anyone,” said former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson in response to a question U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) asked during his confirmation hearing that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held.

Coons also asked Tillerson whether he believes the promotion of gay rights is “a piece of our human rights advocacy and agenda around the world.”

“That’s part of that American values that we protect,” said Tillerson.

Tillerson did not specifically mention lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people.

Coons noted in his question that he previously met with a woman from Zimbabwe who received asylum in the U.S. because she was tortured “for who she was.” He also told Tillerson, who 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, that he was “encouraged by his tough leadership moment.”

The promotion of LGBT and intersex rights abroad has been a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy during President Obama’s second term.

Obama on Dec. 6, 2011, issued a presidential memorandum that directed agencies that implement U.S. foreign policy to promote LGBT and intersex rights. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the same day delivered her “gay rights are human rights” speech in Geneva.

Tillerson on Wednesday did not say whether the Trump administration would continue the Obama administration’s policy. It also remains unclear whether the position of special U.S. envoy for the promotion of LGBT and intersex rights will remain at the State Department.

“In my work around the world, although not always easy or comfortable, it’s I think important that we include respect for the whole range of people’s relations in our menu of how we define human rights,” Coons told Tillerson.

Tillerson last month retired from ExxonMobil.

The company in 2015 added sexual orientation and gender identity to its nondiscrimination policy. Freedom to Work, an LGBT advocacy group, two years earlier filed a complaint against ExxonMobil that alleged it showed bias against prospective employees who were gay.

A spokesperson for the Illinois Human Rights Commission told the Blade last month that a second lawsuit accusing ExxonMobil of anti-gay discrimination is “still pending.”

Tillerson: U.S. needs ‘open and frank dialogue with Russia’

U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) are among the committee members who raised concerns about Tillerson’s ties to Russia amid the backdrop of the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Tillerson in 2011 signed a $300 billion agreement with Russia that would allow his company to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean. The sanctions that the Obama administration imposed against the Kremlin in 2014 over the annexation of Crimea and other interventions in Ukraine derailed the project.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2013 signed a controversial law that bans the promotion of so-called gay propaganda to minors in Russia. The Obama administration late last month expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the U.S. and issued sanctions against two Russian intelligence agencies who the White House claims sought to disrupt the election.

“Russia has conducted very nefarious activities in our country,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Tillerson in his prepared statement said Russia “today poses a danger, but it is not unpredictable in advancing its own interests.” He also criticized the Obama administration for an “absence of American leadership” towards the Kremlin.

“We need an open and frank dialogue with Russia,” said Tillerson.

Corker in a statement he released after the hearing said he supports Tillerson’s nomination.

“From the beginning of this process, I have been committed to ensuring the nominee for Secretary of State receives a fair and thorough hearing, and I am incredibly impressed with how Rex Tillerson has conducted himself,” said Corker. “Based on what I know today, I believe Mr. Tillerson has the potential to be an outstanding Secretary of State, and I look forward to supporting his nomination.”

Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory T. Angelo also supports Tillerson’s nomination.

Angelo in a letter that he sent to Corker on Tuesday noted Tillerson’s role in prompting the Boy Scouts to allow openly gay scouts. Log Cabin Republicans also highlighted ExxonMobil’s nondiscrimination policy.

“Voices of opposition have arisen against Mr. Tillerson since his nomination, many disparaging his record on issues related to LGBT equality,” wrote Angelo in his letter. “These criticisms completely overlook — in many cases willfully — the sensitivity and sympathy Mr. Tillerson has demonstrated throughout his career in regard to cultural issues.”

An email that the Democratic National Committee released after the hearing contained the subject line, “Exxon Has A Poor Track Record On LGBTQ Issues.”

It cited, among other things, a 2015 report that indicates ExxonMobil is the “largest investor” in Qatar. The small Gulf country that borders Saudi Arabia is among the more than 70 nations in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized.

— from the National Gay Media Association and Washington Blade

Related Posts

Trans Chorus of LA Lifts Voices High in Upcoming Three-Act Show

September 30, 2022

September 30, 2022

The Trans Chorus of Los Angeles is lifting its voice to distill the journey of trans and nonbinary people into...

Historic Gay Sex Bathhouse Building in Downtown LA Rumored to Close Soon

September 30, 2022

September 30, 2022

By Susan Payne A historic sex bathhouse catering to gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men, currently housing...

Anti-LGBTQ Temecula Councilmember Proposes Abortion Ban

September 30, 2022

September 30, 2022

By Susan Payne During a September City Council meeting, a known anti-LGBT councilmember proposed a resolution to attempt to ban...

Liberation Café Hosts Anniversary Celebration, in-Person Dining After Two-Year Pandemic Restrictions

September 22, 2022

September 22, 2022

By Susan Payne Two years after opening, the plastic partitions that separated employees and customers inside of Liberation Coffee House...

Long Beach Police Arrest Possible Suspect in Stabbing Death Outside of a Popular Gay Bar

September 22, 2022

September 22, 2022

By Susan Payne Long Beach Police have arrested a man in connection to a murder outside of Mineshaft gay bar...

Santa Monica Hotel Hosting Monthly Drag Brunch

September 22, 2022

September 22, 2022

Drag Me to Brunch at Lowes Santa Monica Beach Hotel on the third Sunday of every month By Dolores Quintana...

Famous Italian Singer Zucchero to Play Beverly Hills Theatre on Sept. 30

September 21, 2022

September 21, 2022

Zucchero will play at Beverly Hills’ Saban Theatre, one of several American stops on his World Wide Tour  By Susan...

Santa Monica Pride History: Public Panics Over Perceived Homosexuality at Muscle Beach

September 16, 2022

September 16, 2022

By Susan Payne In a scholarly article called “Muscle Beach prompted both fascination and anxiety,” Historian Elsa Devienne studies Santa...

LAUSD Releases Pride Calendar That Helps Educators Support LGBTQ+ Students

September 15, 2022

September 15, 2022

By Susan Payne  The Los Angeles Unified School District is giving schools and teachers a monthly calendar that promotes and...

Respect Los Angeles Hails JoJo Siwa as ‘Gamechanger for LGBTQ Advocacy’

September 15, 2022

September 15, 2022

By Susan Payne Come October, JoJo Siwa will be honored as a gamechanger at the upcoming GLSEN Respect Log Angeles...

West Hollywood Launches Initiative to Prevent Drink Spiking

September 15, 2022

September 15, 2022

By Susan Payne Drink spiking at bars and restaurant is a growing problem. To curb that problem, the city of...

California Candidate for Congress Seeks to Be First Transgender, Nonbinary Member

September 8, 2022

September 8, 2022

By Susan Payne More than 100 LGBTQ+ people have run or are currently running for Congress this year, including 13...

WeHo Gay Bar ‘The Or’ is Opening Soon, Accepting Applications

September 8, 2022

September 8, 2022

Bar owner foresees ‘cool, 1970s, ‘80s trashy cocaine chic’ vibes  By Susan Payne Set for a September opening in the...

Georgia Added to California Travel Ban Post Anti-Trans Youth Sports Law Passage

September 8, 2022

September 8, 2022

By Susan Payne California is restricting state-funded travel to Georgia as a result of its anti-LGBTQ+ legislation recently passed within...

QFilms Long Beach Screens Billy Eichner RomCom ‘Bros’

September 8, 2022

September 8, 2022

In partnership with the Art Theatre, 29th Annual film festival is happening now By Susan Payne Dozens of features and...