President-elect Donald Trump has chosen South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, the first woman tapped for a top-level administration post during his White House transition so far.
Her record shows that while she has spoken up for non-traditional families — without specifically mentioning LGBTQ Americans — she opposes the rights of transgender students to public accommodations and once declared “marriage should between a man and a woman.” She defended the state’s ban on same-sex marriage until a federal judge declared it constitutional in September 2015.
The post of ambassador to the U.N. will be a Cabinet-level position in the Trump administration, and Haley has accepted.
“Governor Haley has a proven track record of bringing people together regardless of background or party affiliation to move critical policies forward for the betterment of her state and our country,” Trump said in a news release Wednesday. “She is also a proven dealmaker, and we look to be making plenty of deals. She will be a great leader representing us on the world stage.”
Haley, an outspoken Trump critic throughout much of the presidential race, would become his first female — and first nonwhite — Cabinet-level official if confirmed by the Senate. She’s the daughter of Indian immigrants and is the second Asian-American to serve as a U.S. governor.
“Our country faces enormous challenges here at home and internationally, and I am honored that the president-elect has asked me to join his team and serve the country we love as the next ambassador to the United Nations,” Haley said in Trump’s release.
This is Haley’s biggest appearance on the national stage since January when she delivered a stinging rebuke to Trump in the Republican response to the president’s final state of the union message to Congress. She also made a fleeting reference to LGBTQ families, which greatly upset right-wing conservatives.
Haley was criticized for calling out “the angriest voices“ in the Republican party, a reference to Trump, among others. But it was Haley’s vow to “respect differences in modern families” that infuriated American Family Association policy wonk and conservative radio host Bryan Fischer, Right Wing Watch reported.
“The Republican Party has officially embraced sodomy-based marriage and the entire homosexual agenda,” Fischer ranted. “We know from the research, it’s a form of child abuse for a child to be raised in a same-sex household. It is a form of child abuse; all of the best in social research confirms that and here is Nikki Haley saying we’re not going to fight for those children.”
Despite that, evangelicals appealed to Haley to help them in their fight against an Obama administration directive on public accommodations for transgender students, and she complied, publicly denouncing the guidance and vowing to fight it.
Haley was for a time a defendant in a lawsuit against South Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage, which was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge. Even there, marriage equality has taken hold in the year since the Supreme Court ruled it was the law of the land, although there are still cases of religious objections, discrimination and outright bigotry.
Not all presidents have treated the ambassadorship to the U.N. as a Cabinet-level position, and Republicans have tended not to grant that status.