January 24, 2017 at 6:48 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Senate confirms Nikki Haley as next U.N. ambassador

Nikki Haley, gay news, Washington Blade

The U.S. Senate on Jan. 24, 2017, confirmed South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as the next U.S. ambassador to the U.N. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as the next U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

Senators approved Haley’s nomination by a 96-4 vote margin.

“She will be a strong voice for the U.S. at the U.N.,” said U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on his Twitter page.

Tuesday’s vote took place hours after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Haley’s nomination by a 19-2 vote margin.

“Governor Haley is a fierce advocate for American interests,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who chairs the committee. “As South Carolina’s governor, Nikki Haley is a proven leader. I believe she has the instincts that will help her achieve reform.”

Haley garnered bipartisan praise for her 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.

She told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week during her confirmation hearing that American values “do not allow for discrimination of any kind to anyone.” Haley did not, however, specifically mention LGBT and intersex people in response to a question about supporting their rights abroad that U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) asked.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power championed LGBT and intersex issues during her ambassadorship.

“Gov. Haley will have very big shoes to fill,” Human Rights Campaign Global Director Ty Cobb told the Washington Blade after then-President-elect Trump announced Haley’s nomination. “She and her staff must continue to address LGBTQ human rights at the U.N. Lives depend on it.”

Tuesday’s vote took place a day after the same committee approved former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson’s nomination to become secretary of state.

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who is the committee’s ranking member, in a statement his office released on Tuesday said “it caught my attention when neither of them (Tillerson or Haley) would say the phrase ‘LGBT’” during their respective confirmation hearings. The Maryland Democrat also expressed concern over the removal of LGBT-specific content from the White House and websites and a report that former Secretary of State John Kerry’s apology to those who were fired during the so-called “Lavender Scare” was no longer online.

The Washington Blade was able to find the apology through a search function on the State Department’s website.

“I encourage the administration to makes its public information portals reflective of all Americans and our values, and I will be monitoring this closely,” said Cardin. “We cannot and will not turn back the clock on the hard-fought civil rights of the LGBT community. Instead we must strengthen and expand them.”

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

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