Donald Trump has given an anti-gay religious right-wing activist a lead role in his transition team.
John Kenneth ‘Ken’ Blackwell, Ohio’s former Secretary of State, will head up the team’s work on domestic issues.
In a 2006 interview, he compared gay people to kleptomaniacs and arsonists.
‘I think homosexuality is a lifestyle, it’s a choice, and that lifestyle can be changed,’ he said in response to the question whether homosexuality was a choice and whether gay people could be cured.
The quotes were circulated by Right Wing Watch, as well as a number of other sources, including the Guardian’s Scott Bixby.
“Homosexuality is a lifestyle, it’s a choice, and that lifestyle can be changed.” – Trump transition team’s head of domestic policy pic.twitter.com/SfMcV8qtIb
— Scott Bixby (@scottbix) November 10, 2016
‘I think it is a transgression against God’s law, God’s will.’
He also said he believes ‘people make choices all the time’.
‘And I think you make good choices and bad choices in terms of lifestyle.
‘Our expectation is that one’s genetic makeup might make one more inclined to be an arsonist or might make one more inclined to be a kleptomaniac. Do I think that they can be changed? Yes.’
Blackwell is also associated with the Family Research Council, which has been declared a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of their ‘discredited research and junk science’.
The Council opposes and lobbies against same-sex marriage, civil partnerships and gay couples’ right to adopt, as well as abortion, divorce and pornography.
In his role as a Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment, Blackwell continued broadcasting his anti-gay stance.
He blamed the 2014 mass shooting in Isla Vista, California, on marriage equality.
In the attack, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger first stabbed three men in his flat, before driving to a sorority house where he fired at three female students, two of which died.
He also killed a male student at a nearby deli before driving through Isla Vista and shooting at pedestrians and striking others with his car, before he killed himself.
Following the attack, Blackwell blamed it the US’ ‘moral foundation’ being under attack.
‘When you see there’s a crumbling of the moral foundation of the country, you see the attack on natural marriage and the family,’ he said in an interview with FRC’s president Tony Perkins on his radio program Washington Watch.
‘That has been a part of not only the moral foundation and the upbringing of our children, but the teaching of sexual roles and the development of human sexuality in our culture.
‘When these fundamental institutions are attacked and destroyed and weakened and abandoned you get what are now seeing, and that is a flood of these distrubed people in our society that are causing great pain.’
In 2015, former Alaska GOP politician Joe Miller invited Blackwell on his radio show.
There, he warned of Obama establishing a ‘totalitarian regime’ by establishing a welfare state – something Blackwell said was done to ‘weaken the family’ and ‘marginalize the church’.
‘Ken Blackwell is a man who has spent his entire career going after LGBTQ Americans,’ said Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof.
‘Blackwell’s leadership role in President-Elect Trump’s transition team should be a major wake up call for anybody who ever had any doubt that LGBTQ people are at risk.’
Human Rights Campaign has also tipped several right-wing, anti-LGBTI extremists to take lead roles in Trump’s team.
Besides Ken Blackwell, names being suggested include former Attorney General Ed Meese, who in the past claimed ‘shows how the culture has deteriorated over two centuries’.
They also suggest a role will be given to Kay Cole James who, according to The Advocate, compared LGBTQ people to drug addicts, alcoholics, adulterers, or ‘anything else sinful’ in her book Transforming America from the Inside Out.