Add another anti-LGBTQ politician to President Trump’s Cabinet.
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has been appointed to serve as the State Department’s ambassador at large for international religious freedom.
If he can be successfully confirmed, he will head up the Office of International Religious Freedom, tasked with monitoring “religious persecution and discrimination worldwide, recommend and implement policies in respective regions or countries, and develop programs to promote religious freedom.”
The Trump administration has made so-called “religious freedom” a priority, with the president promising the religious right and telling them on more than one occasion that he was on their side on the issue.
He signed an executive order earlier this year to grant non-profits, including churches, the right to back parties and candidates.
Yesterday, the Department of Justice filed an amicus brief arguing that longstanding civil rights law didn’t protect gay people. That means that if someone wants to discriminate against the LGBTQ community in employment, even without pointing to a religious motivation for so doing, they will be protected if the White House gets its way.
As for Brownback, he has shown time and again that he is one of the most anti-LGBTQ politicians serving today, consistently voting against our rights while serving in Congress on issues including discrimination, marriage equality, and hate crimes legislation. One of his first acts as Governor was to rescind employment protections for LGBT state workers.
Today has been a dark day for the core American value of equality under the law. On the heels of President Trump’s shameful attack on the military service of transgender Americans, it has been announced that Kansas Governor Sam Brownback will be nominated by the president as the Ambassador for International Religious Freedom. Given Gov. Brownback’s record of steadfast opposition to equal rights for LGBT Americans—and his wrong-headed insistence that discrimination is justified by religious belief—the nomination should be considered a further indication of the Trump Administration’s approach to equality.
We feel compelled to note that throughout his tumultuous tenure, Gov. Brownback worked tirelessly to erode the protections that the First Amendment affords for the separation of church and state. More troubling, Gov. Brownback has been one of the nation’s leading proponents of the notion that people, businesses, and even governments should be able to discriminate against others because of their own religious beliefs. The governor went so far as to advocate for, and sign into law, a bill that mandates government funding of organizations that discriminate in their membership, so long as that discrimination is rooted in religious belief. In Gov. Brownback’s view, “religious freedom” has meant issuing a license to discriminate against others, especially against LGBT Kansans. His policies on religious freedom have not been about protecting the constitutional right to worship when, where, how, and with whom you like; they have been about giving people the ability to pick and choose whether they will respect the fundamental human rights of their fellow citizens, based on their own particular religious views.