January 24, 2018 at 5:58 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Pence breaks tie to confirm anti-LGBT Brownback nomination
Sam Brownback, Family Research Council, Susan B. Anthony List, gay news, Washington Blade

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback was confirmed as U.S. ambassador at large for international religious freedom. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

In his role as president of the U.S. Senate, Vice President Mike Pence had to break the tie Wednesday to confirm Sam Brownback as U.S. ambassador at-large for religious freedom.

Brownback was approved on party-line 50-49 vote. Pence’s tie-breaking vote was necessary to end the filibuster on his nomination and the confirmation itself. (For presidential appointees, only a majority vote is necessary to overcome a filibuster.) Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) were absent from the votes.

Both Pence and Brownback, who represented Kansas in Congress as a congressman and senator becoming governor of the state, have long anti-LGBT records.

As Kansas governor, Brownback rescinded an executive order barring anti-LGBT discrimination in state employment and signed into law a “religious freedom” allowing religious groups at taxpayer-funded public universities to exclude LGBT members.

As a U.S. senator, Brownback championed a proposed U.S. constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage nationwide and opposed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.

Brownback’s anti-LGBT history was on display during his confirmation when queried about his past by Senate Democrats. Upon repeated questioning from Sen. Tim Kane (D-Va.), Brownback refused to say laws in foreign countries criminalizing LGBT status were always unjustified.

The U.S. ambassador at-large for international religious freedom heads up the Office of International Religious Freedom at the State Department. Traditionally, the appointee in that role has advocated for religious minorities facing persecution overseas.

The confirmation of Brownback, whom Trump first nominated last year, was opposed by LGBT groups.

Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of GLAAD, said in a statement Brownback is unfit for the position, but complement other anti-LGBT appointees in the Trump administration.

“There is a vast difference between combating the real and horrific persecution facing religious minorities across the globe and Brownback’s own record of distorting religious freedom to promote anti-LGBTQ discrimination,” Ellis said. “Brownback now joins the ranks of an administration fully committed to promoting religious exemptions as a weapon of discrimination against LGBTQ people and other vulnerable communities.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

7 Comments
  • This is what you get from the anti-LGBT Trump administration! Where’s the GLBT Ambassador equivalent for LGBT Freedom? You won’t get one under the Fake POTUS!

    Wise up and work hard to vote a better Congressional make up in 2018 Mid-term and the Fake POTUS out in 2020!

  • Brownback. Is that one of the most queer sounding surnames you’ve ever heard? What irony!

  • Religious Freedom is only one thing, an excuse to hate others and the life they live, under cover of religion. The same bigotry, misunderstanding, and hate that inspired the men who wrote the Old Testament lives well in the hearts of men in this century, in this country and others. One day God Himself will make this perfectly clear. To bad it will be too late for evangelicals. With the election of trump the vail that hides them becomes all the more thin. To me it has become so clear how their plot to in case this age old hate within the Bible has kept it alive and well for all these years.


  • This is actually a positive development: The Senate voted and now Brownback and Kansas have an answer.

    At least this action liberates Kansas from Brownback and all his idiocies. The significantly Republican-controlled Legislature reinstated Brownback’s tax cuts after the state government started to implode, overriding his veto to do so.

    Besides, given all of the issues at the State Department, does anyone really think he’s going to accomplish anything? Of course not.

    Let Donald Trump join other Presidents in giving jobs to his friends. Sad !

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