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Meet the new, anti-gay, US International Religious Freedom Ambassador

Meet the new, anti-gay, US International Religious Freedom Ambassador

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference

LGBTI advocates in the US have criticized Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s new appointment. He’s been made International Religious Freedom ambassador-at-large.

The Senate voted along party lines and was split 49-49. The deadlock was broken yesterday evening by Vice President Mike Pence, who cast the deciding vote in Brownback’s favor.

Pence said he was ‘proud to cast the tie-breaking vote’. He called Brownback ‘a principled man of faith who will help the Trump Admin advance support for persecuted religious groups around the world.’

Brownback was first nominated for the position seven months ago by President Trump. Brownback tweeted his thanks to Pence, President Trump and the others who had supported his appointment.

‘Thank you to @POTUS, @VP, and all the Senators who supported my nomination. I’m looking forward to starting my new position as Ambassador and working hard for the American people and religious freedom around the world.’

Brownback has a history of voting against LGBTI rights

Republican Brownback, 61, a former lawyer, has been Governor of Kansas since 2011.

The role of International Religious Freedom ambassador at large was created in 1998. It is intended to promote ‘religious freedom as a core objective of U.S. foreign policy,’ according to the US State Department.

Brownback has long been an advocate for religious freedom at the expense of the LGBTI community. In 2016, he signed the Campus Religious Freedom Bill, which allows religious student groups to block membership based on ‘religious beliefs’. This includes discriminating against LGBTI students from joining.

Previously, he signed laws protecting clergy who do not participate in same-sex marriages, removed protections for LGBTI state employees, and attended an anti-marriage equality rally.

Because of the LGBTI policies Brownback helped introduce in Kansas, California banned state-funded and sponsored travel to the state, along with North Carolina, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

‘Stacking the administration with anti-LGBTQ politicians’

‘For decades, Sam Brownback has attacked the LGBTQ community and worked to undermine fairness and equality. His extremist, anti-LGBTQ actions should disqualify him from representing the people of the United States,’ said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy in a statement.

‘Donald Trump and Mike Pence are stacking the administration with anti-LGBTQ politicians determined to carry out their harmful and discriminatory policies. We are deeply disappointed that the Senate has chosen to confirm Brownback’s nomination.’

Sarah Kate Ellis President and CEO of GLAAD, also slammed Brownback’s appointment. She said ‘There is a vast difference between combating the real and horrific persecution facing religious minorities across the globe and Brownback’s own record of distorting religious freedom to promote anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

‘Brownback now joins the ranks of an administration fully committed to promoting religious exemptions as a weapon of discrimination against LGBTQ people and other vulnerable communities.’

Lambda Legal also tweeted about Brownback’s appointment. ‘”Concerning” is an understatement.’