President Donald Trump may have failed to issue a Pride month proclamation for the second year, but the White House has officially recognized the occasion.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released the following statement Friday:
The United States joins people around the world in celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) Pride Month, and reaffirms its commitment to protecting and defending the human rights of all, including LGBTI persons.
In many parts of the world, LGBTI individuals and their supporters continue to face violence, arrest, harassment and intimidation for standing up for their human rights, participating in peaceful marches and rallies, expressing their views, and simply being who they are. LGBTI persons—like all persons—must be free to enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association, without fear of reprisal. As Americans, we place a high value on these rights and freedoms, which all persons deserve to enjoy fully and equally.
The United States stands firmly with you as you exercise your human rights and fundamental freedoms. We wish you a safe and happy Pride Month.
“As we begin #PrideMonth, we stand with the #LGBTI community in U.S. and around the world in affirming the dignity and equality of all people,” Pompeo also tweeted. “Human rights are universal.”
The sentiment comes as somewhat of a surprise considering Pompeo’s anti-LGBT record.
The former Kansas Republican representative and CIA director, who officially replaced ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last month, told the Senate during his confirmation hearing that he opposes marriage equality.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) challenged Pompeo, noting that in 2015 he gave a speech reiterating anti-gay pastor Rev. Joe Wright’s comment that “America had worshipped other Gods and called it multiculturalism. We’d endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.”
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) June 1, 2018
“Senator, when I was a politician, I had a very clear view on whether it was appropriate for two same-sex persons to marry,” Pompeo replied. “I stand by that.”
“Do you believe that gay sex is a perversion?” Booker pressed. “Yes or no, sir? Because that’s what you said here in one of your speeches.”
Pompeo evaded the question, saying his “respect for every individual, regardless of their sexual orientation, is the same.” Acknowledging that the State Department and CIA employed people in same-sex marriages, Pompeo said he treated them with “the exact same set of rights.”
As a member of Congress, Pompeo opposed marriage equality and voted against the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He opposed expanding the Violence Against Women Act to include LGBT victims and co-sponsored the Marriage and Religious Freedoms Act, which would have permitted anti-LGBT discrimination under the guise of religious liberty.
As acting CIA director, Pompeo cancelled a planned speech about diversity and LGBT rights to be given by the parents of Matthew Shepard. He also consulted with president Tony Perkins of Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as an anti-LGBT hate group.
HRC president Chad Griffin has called Pompeo a “reckless choice to lead our nation’s diplomatic efforts.”
“The decision to nominate anti-LGBT Mike Pompeo could have serious consequences for the U.S. and LGBT people around the globe,” Griffin said in a statement. “The State Department has a crucial role to play in advancing human rights—a role which was already rapidly declining under Tillerson. This decision has the potential to make a dire situation even worse.”
Tillerson, Pompeo’s predecessor as Secretary of State, also issued a statement recognizing Pride month last year.