April 23, 2018 at 6:19 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Senate committee approves Mike Pompeo nomination

Mike Pompeo, gay news, Washington Blade

Mike Pompeo during his confirmation hearing to become the next secretary of state declined to specifically say whether he thinks being gay is “a perversion.” (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday by a 11-9 vote margin approved the nomination of Mike Pompeo to become the next secretary of state.

The vote took place without U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), a Pompeo supporter who was in Georgia to deliver his best friend’s eulogy. U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who publicly opposes the nomination, voted present in order to accommodate Isakson.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who had previously opposed Pompeo’s nomination, announced just before the vote that he would support him.

President Trump last month nominated Pompeo — a former Kansas congressman who is currently the director of the CIA — to succeed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after he fired him.

U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) during his confirmation hearing pressed Pompeo on his anti-LGBT statements. Pompeo did not specifically answer Booker’s question about whether he thinks “being gay is a perversion.”

Shaheen and U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) both cited Pompeo’s anti-LGBT statements as among the reasons they oppose his nomination.

“Mr. Pompeo has made repeated, damning statements about members of the Islamic faith and the LGBT community during his public career that are completely antithetical to American values,” said Cardin in an April 18 statement. “His statements in that regard make it challenging for him to represent our country to the world and oversee our smart power arsenal.”

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) before the vote noted Pompeo co-sponsored a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would have allowed states to refuse to recognize the marriages of gays and lesbians.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) cited Pompeo’s anti-LGBT and anti-Muslim comments as among the reasons he voted against his nomination. U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) in a tweet said Pompeo “has made disparaging remarks about people of different faiths, women, and the LGBTQ community.”

“Mike Pompeo’s long-standing opposition to LGBTQ equality and lack of diplomatic experience makes him a poor choice to lead our nation’s diplomatic efforts,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin in a statement he released after the vote.

Pompeo’s nomination now goes before the full U.S. Senate.

“Senate confirmation of anti-LGBTQ Mike Pompeo could have serious consequences for the United States and LGBTQ people around the globe,” said Griffin in his statement. “The State Department has a crucial role to play in advancing human rights — a role which was already significantly eroding under Rex Tillerson. This decision has the potential to make a dire situation even worse. The Senate should reject Pompeo’s nomination.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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