Pompeo — a former congressman from Kansas who was most recently the director of the CIA — was sworn in by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito shortly after the vote. Pompeo succeeds Rex Tillerson, who President Trump fired last month.
Pompeo co-sponsored a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would have allowed states to refuse to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples. Pompeo also opposed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Pompeo earlier this month during his confirmation hearing reaffirmed his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples. Pompeo also did not specifically answer U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)’s question about whether he thinks “being gay is a perversion.”
U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) specifically cited Pompeo’s positions on LGBT-specific issues as among the reasons they opposed his nomination. Pompeo’s comments against Muslims have also sparked criticism among advocates and their supporters.
“Senators who cast their vote to confirm Mike Pompeo showed complete disregard for the global LGBTQ community by ignoring his ties to anti-LGBTQ hate and extremism,” said GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement.
Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, in her own statement said the secretary of state is “our nation’s top diplomat who must represent all in America and promote human rights abroad.”
“Mike Pompeo has yet to prove that he can fulfill that duty,” she added. “Until now, Director Pompeo’s record shows that he does not equally value the rights of all, in particular LGBTQ people, women, Muslims, and refugees. We urge Mr. Pompeo to recognize the enormity of his new role by valuing the rights of all — including members of the State Department’s diverse workforce. Most importantly, Congress must ensure that he stays true to the task.”
Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin had a similar reaction.
“Mike Pompeo’s long-standing opposition to LGBTQ equality and lack of diplomatic experience makes him a poor choice to lead our nation’s diplomatic efforts,” he said in a statement. “The State Department has a crucial role to play in advancing human rights — a role which was already significantly eroding under Rex Tillerson. Now that he has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate, LGBTQ people around the world will need him to stand up for LGBTQ human rights.”