December 19, 2016 at 4:42 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
State Department defends Trump response to Tony Perkins letter

Tony Perkins, Family Research Council, Values Voter Summit, gay news, Washington Blade

A State Department spokesperson on Dec. 19, 2016, defended President-elect Trump’s transition team’s response to Family Research Council President Tony Perkins‘s letter that urges his administration to remove “activists” from the agency who promote LGBT and reproductive rights. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A State Department spokesperson on Monday defended President-elect Trump’s transition team for the way it responded to Family Research Council President Tony Perkins’ request that it remove officials who promote LGBT and reproductive rights abroad.

“I’ve seen the letter,” John Kirby told the Washington Blade during his daily press briefing. “I think the president-elect’s transition team already spoke to the issue and pushed back pretty hard on the notion that the president-elect would in any way abide by discrimination here at the State Department.”

Jason Miller, a spokesperson for the Trump transition team, told the Blade in response to Perkins’ letter that the president-elect “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,” said Miller.

Kirby said Miller was “pretty succinct, pretty clear, pretty concise about where they stand on discrimination.”

Chad Griffin: Perkins seeks ‘purge’ of ‘pro-LGBTQ employees’

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’s campaign.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin accused Perkins of supporting a “purge” of “pro-LGBTQ employees.” The letter also prompted strong reactions from other LGBT rights advocates and social media users.

Trump last week formally announced ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson’s nomination as secretary of state.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who signed a 2013 law that bans the promotion of so-called gay propaganda to minors, has close ties to Tillerson. Perkins in his letter said he 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 in 2013.

The promotion of LGBT rights abroad has been a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy since 2011. Activists with whom the Blade has spoken since the election have expressed concern that they will no longer receive support from the U.S. once Trump takes office.

“You know very well our views on human rights at large, not just here at the State Department but around the world,” Kirby told the Blade.

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

  • Tony Perkins is the most frustrated bottom in America. This is what happens when your repressed desires become toxic.

  • Given the make up of the incoming cabinet and the VP I am very leery of the new administration

  • Donald Trump acts on whatever impulse he has at the moment, and that’s one of the reasons he’s dangerous.

    Statements made on the incoming President’s behalf are no more than damage reduction. The people who make those statements can’t predict his behavior any more accurately than the rest of us.

    Question: Is it proper protocol to answer a letter from someone representing a hate group? Personally, if I got something like that in the mail I’d send it back unopened and marked “refused.”

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