State Department staff reportedly raised concerns before Seccretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at an anti-LGBTQ hate group’s fundraising dinner. The group promotes “conversion therapy,” the quack science that claims LGBTQ people can be “cured.”
The Florida Family Policy Council, a state chapter of Focus on the Family, is popular with local Republican politicians. Pompeo, who has been flouting rules that prevent the Secretary of State from engaging in partisan politics, gave an anti-abortion speech.
The Secretary’s advance team originally flagged the group as problematic after finding “overtly anti-gay fliers” at the location where the event would be held. Other employees pointed out that the group promotes the dangerous practice that frequently leads to suicide.
The group says they offer LGBTQ people “help leaving the gay lifestyle” and condemns widespread bans on the practice, saying “conversion therapy” is an “ideological term.”
“Conversion therapy bans disguise themselves as bans on ‘abuse.’ Rather, such bans place unconstitutional limits on freedom of speech because they do not consider the patient’s (or minor patient’s parents) right to pursue avenues of therapy consistent with their beliefs and choices,” the website states.
Pompeo has made prioritizing religious liberty over human rights a hallmark of his tenure. LGBTQ and women’s rights have been frequent targets of his agenda.
The secretary created the Commission on Unalienable Rights, a group stacked with far-right evangelical Christians and religious extremists, to “examine” existing civil rights laws and prioritize them. Unsurprisingly, the group found that “religious freedom” was more important than women’s reproductive freedom and LGBTQ rights.
An anti-LGBTQ activist was the chair of the commission.