April 7, 2018 at 11:26 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Pompeo confirmation hearing scheduled for April 12

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has announced the confirmation hearing for CIA Director Mike Pompeo to succeed Rex Tillerson as secretary of state will take place on April 12, 2018. (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Friday announced Mike Pompeo’s confirmation hearing to become the next secretary of state will take place on April 12.

President Trump last month nominated Pompeo — a former Kansas congressman who is the current CIA director — after he fired then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin and other advocates in the U.S. and around the world have expressed concern over Pompeo’s nomination because of his opposition to LGBT rights.

Pompeo opposes marriage rights for same-sex couples and co-sponsored a bill in the U.S. House that would have allowed states to refuse to recognize the marriages of gays and lesbians. Pompeo also opposed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Pompeo also has long-standing ties with the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has classified as a hate group. The Southern Poverty Law Center also notes Pompeo has made statements against Muslims in the U.S.

GLAAD on Friday announced in a press release it has launched a campaign that seeks to “expose Mike Pompeo’s personal ties to anti-LGBTQ hate and extremism and pressure members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to hold Pompeo accountable to his anti-LGBTQ record in his upcoming confirmation hearing for the position of secretary of state.” The press release also notes GLAAD Campus Advisor Tony Hernandez will deliver “research exposing Mike Pompeo’s disturbingly close ties with” the Family Research Council to the offices of the 21 committee members.

“Unless Mike Pompeo can unequivocally state that LGBTQ rights are human rights, he is wholly unqualified to be the nation’s top diplomat,” said GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis in the press release.

The Human Rights Campaign, PFLAG, the Matthew Shepard Foundation and more than 50 other civil rights organizations have signed a Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights letter that urges senators to oppose Pompeo’s nomination.

The letter, which the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights released on Monday, notes his opposition to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and marriage rights for same-sex couples. The letter also highlights Pompeo’s previous comments on torture and Muslims.

“The secretary of state is one of our most important positions for promoting and protecting human rights,” it reads. “This Cabinet level position has a unique and important role requiring the ability to build international coalitions and serve as our representative in international negotiations. Mr. Pompeo’s documented anti-Muslim bias is dangerous to American foreign policy, will cripple his ability to develop essential relationships with Muslim-majority countries, and will irreparably undermine his ability to lead the State Department workforce.”

The promotion of LGBT and intersex rights abroad was a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. The State Department during Tillerson’s tenure continued to promote LGBTI rights abroad, even though the Trump administration’s record on LGBT-specific issues in the U.S. has sparked outrage among advocates and their supporters.

Tillerson publicly acknowledged Pride month and the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Tillerson last summer raised the ongoing crackdown against LGBT Chechens in a letter to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The State Department under Tillerson’s tenure also expressed concern over anti-LGBT crackdowns in Azerbaijan, Egypt and other countries.

Eric Catalfamo of the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica last November spoke at a conference in the country’s capital of San José that focused on efforts to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in Latin America. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Randy Berry is no longer the special U.S. envoy for the human rights of LGBTI people; but the State Department told the Blade last November that Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Scott Busby is currently carrying out the “role and responsibilities” of the position.

Busby’s biography on the State Department’s website notes LGBTI rights and human rights are among the issues he “oversees” within the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

“What we need most is a secretary of state who takes human rights seriously,” OutRight Action International Executive Director Jessica Stern told the Washington Blade after Trump fired Tillerson and nominated Pompeo to succeed him.

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

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