January 18, 2017 at 2:56 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Haley: U.S. values don’t allow ‘discrimination of any kind’
Nikki Haley, gay news, Washington Blade

President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to become the next U.S. ambassador to U.N., Gov. Nikki Haley speaks at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Jan. 18, 2017. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

President-elect Trump’s nominee to become the next U.S. ambassador to the U.N. on Wednesday said American values “do not allow for discrimination of any kind to anyone.”

“That is something I will always speak loudly about,” said South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in response to a question U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) asked about the promotion of LGBT rights abroad during her confirmation hearing that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held. “It’s something I will always fight for and I think its important that we never have to deal with discrimination in this country and I don’t want to see any other country have to deal with discrimination.”

Booker noted to Haley that 40 percent of homeless youth are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The New Jersey Democrat also pointed out that 50 percent of LGBT youth miss school because they are afraid of bullying.

“On the international context you see even more serious challenges to the basic human rights and dignity to the LGBT citizens of the world,” said Booker.

Booker also described outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power as “a champion of LGBT human rights.”

“She really put it at the forefront of her work,” said Booker.

Haley did not specifically mention LGBT people in her response to Booker’s question.

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

The U.S. voted for two pro-LGBT resolutions that the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted in 2011 and 2014 respectively. The U.S. also supported the creation of the U.N.’s first-ever LGBT watchdog that the U.N. Human Rights Council approved last year.

The U.S. and Chile in 2015 co-hosted the first-ever U.N. Security Council meeting on an LGBT-specific issue that focused on the so-called Islamic State’s persecution of LGBT Syrians and Iraqis.

Power noted to the Blade earlier this month during a telephone interview from New York that the U.S. fought Russia’s unsuccessful efforts to overturn then-U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s directive to provide spousal benefits to gay U.N. personnel who are legally married. She also pointed out the U.S. supported efforts to ensure Vitit Muntarbhorn, the U.N.’s first-ever LGBT rights watchdog, would remain in place.

“If you had told me in 2009 when I joined the Obama administration that we could mobilize at the ambassadorial level dozens of ambassadors in countries around the globe where this issue (of LGBT rights) remains relatively toxic … and that those ambassadors would march in and see the foreign ministers of those countries, it’s incredible,” Power told the Blade. “The U.S. government, the foreign service itself changed by these campaigns we run here at the U.N.”

Haley’s story ‘epitome of the American dream’

Haley’s parents are from India.

She is South Carolina’s first female governor. Haley is also the second Indian-American to hold a state governorship.

“Her story is really the epitome of the American dream coming to life,” said U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) after he and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced Haley.

Haley has a mixed record on LGBT rights in South Carolina.

She said it was her “job to uphold” the state’s constitution and defend its same-sex marriage ban.

Haley opposes the Obama administration’s guidance that says public schools should allow transgender students to use bathrooms that are consistent with their gender identity. She told reporters last year that North Carolina’s House Bill 2 and similar laws that critics have described as anti-trans and anti-LGBT are not “necessary” in South Carolina.

Haley said in the Republican Party’s response to Obama’s 2016 State of the Union address that the GOP “would respect differences in modern families” if it were to regain the White House. She added her party would “also insist on respect for religious liberty as a cornerstone of our democracy.”

She rejected state level matching funds for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which provides medications to low income people with HIV/AIDS. Haley also refused to expand Medicaid and rejected federal funds through the Affordable Care Act that Obama signed in 2010.

Graham and Scott both applauded Haley’s decision to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina State House after a gunman killed nine people inside the Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston in June 2015. Many committee members appeared to share this sentiment.

“I’ve been impressed by your work in South Carolina,” said U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)

Nikki Haley, Jeanne Shaheen, gay news, Washington Blade

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, left, meets with U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) on Jan. 17, 2017. Shaheen is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that held a confirmation hearing on Haley’s nomination as the next U.S. ambassador to the U.N. (Photo courtesy of Shaheen’s office)

Haley appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a week after it held a confirmation hearing for former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who Trump has nominated to become the next secretary of state.

Tillerson raised eyebrows among many LGBT rights advocates when he declined to specifically say whether “gay rights are human rights.”

Log Cabin Republicans supports the nominations of Tillerson and Haley.

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

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