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Trump’s new religious freedom ambassador uses religion to attack LGBT people

Josh Jackman January 25, 2018
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PERRY, IA - JANUARY 02: Kansas Governor Sam Brownback gives a speech supporting Texas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry at the Hotel Pattee on January 2, 2012 in Perry, Iowa. The GOP presidential contenders are crisscrossing Iowa in the final stretch of campaigning in the state before the January 3rd caucus, the first test the candidates must face before becoming the Republican presidential nominee. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)


Donald Trump’s new ambassador for religious freedom has a history of attacking LGBT people, often justifying his actions through religious freedom.

Sam Brownback, who needed Vice President Mike Pence’s tie-breaking vote to be confirmed in the Senate, repeatedly promoted homophobic and transphobic policies in his seven years as Governor of Kansas.

The US is currently embroiled in a battle between so-called religious liberty and LGBT people that centres on whether homophobic Christians should have the ability to discriminate against gay people.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 11: Kansas Governor Sam Brownback participates in a prison reform roundtable with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, on January 11, 2018 in Washington, DC. State and local leaders joined Trump to discuss programs intended to help prisoners re-enter the workforce among other policy initiatives. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Last week, Trump sparked anger with a Religious Freedom Day proclamation in which he gave his support to anyone using their religious beliefs to discriminate against LGBT people.

Last month, his administration told the Supreme Court that it should be acceptable for businesses to put up signs denying service to same-sex couples.

(Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

And Brownback’s appointment is another kick in the teeth for LGBT people in the US.

After all, in 2015, Brownback used his position as Governor to rescind an order which protected LGBT workers from discrimination.

He replaced it with a new executive order, removing “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” from the list of protected characteristics.

OVERLAND PARK, KS - OCTOBER 27: Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (L) and  Former Massachusetts Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney stump for Senator Pat Roberts campaign together at the Prairie Fire shopping center October 27, 2014 in Overland Park, Kansas.  Ahead of Midterm Elections, Romney has joined a number of national Republican political figures to stump for Roberts who is facing a close race with independent Greg Orman. (Photo by Julie Denesha/Getty Images)
Brownback campaigning with Mitt Romney for Senator Pat Roberts (Getty)

The measure stopped the state’s government from taking action against taxpayer-funded organisations which denied services to same-sex couples based on religious beliefs.

No wonder the Trump administration likes him.

The year after, Brownback pushed for a policy to make it nearly impossible for transgender people in his state to change their birth certificates to reflect their gender identity.

WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 21:  U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) (C) speaks as Rep. Mary Fallin (R-OK) (R) and Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) (L) listen during a news conference on Capitol Hill October 21, 2009 in Washington, DC. Focus on the Family Action delivered to the congress 137,000 petitions that objected the inclusion of public funding of abortion in the healthcare reform.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Brownback at an anti-abortion protest organised by Focus on the Family (Getty)

He proposed that a birth certificate could only be updated if someone’s parents could prove that it was incorrectly recorded at birth.

Last year, after the US voted against a UN Human Rights Council measure which condemned the use of the death penalty for homosexuality, Brownback was questioned about the issue.

During his confirmation session, he was asked: “Is there any circumstance under which criminalising, imprisoning, or executing people based on their LGBT status could be deemed acceptable because somebody asserts that they are religiously motivated in doing so?”

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) holds up a US one dollar bill as he makes remarks on taxes as Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback listens during a panel discussion at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, February 23, 2017.   Politicians, pundits, journalists and celebrities gather for the annual conservative event to hear speakers, network and plan agendas for the new President Trump administration.               / AFP / Mike Theiler        (Photo credit should read MIKE THEILER/AFP/Getty Images)

He declined to make an explicit condemnation.

“I don’t know what that would be, in what circumstance, but I would continue the policies that have been done in the prior administration in working on these international issues,” said Brownback.

The Human Rights Campaign has strongly condemned the appointment, noting that Trump has filled his administration with anti-LGBT officials.

US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach on January 14, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy said: “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.”

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 10: U.S. President Donald Trump walks away after a news conference with Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway in the East Room at the White House, on January 10, 2018 in Washington, DC. The two leaders participated in a meeting before taking questions from the media. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

He added: “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.”

GLAAD also spoke out against the move.

“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,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, the organisation’s president.

“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.”

More: Donald Trump, Homophobia, Kansas, Politics, Sam Brownback, transphobia, US, US

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