December 16, 2016 at 12:46 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Kerry speaks to Tillerson
Rex Tillerson, gay news, Washington Blade

ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson on Dec. 16, 2016, spoke with Secretary of State John Kerry. (Photo by William Munoz; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday spoke with ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson.

State Department spokesperson Mark Toner in a statement said Kerry “offered his congratulations on his nomination as secretary of state.”

“The secretary offered his personal support, as well as the support of the State Department, for a seamless transition as we continue to advance U.S. foreign policy goals around the world,” said Toner.

President-elect Trump on Tuesday formally announced Tillerson’s nomination to succeed Kerry.

ExxonMobil 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 Tillerson’s company that alleged it showed bias against gay prospective employees.

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

Tillerson 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.

Ties to Russia, Vladimir Putin questioned

Tillerson has faced questions about his ties to Russia amid allegations the Kremlin sought to interfere with the presidential election.

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

Tillerson in 2013 received Russia’s Order of Friendship. President Vladimir Putin in the same year signed a controversial law that bans the promotion of so-called gay propaganda to minors in Russia.

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

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