Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo declined to state whether he still thinks homosexuality is a “perversion” during his Senate confirmation hearing.
The former CIA director was grilled on Thursday by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) after he was tapped to replace outgoing Rex Tillerson, who was abruptly fired in March following reported tension with President Trump. Booker asked Pompeo about a comment he made during his time as a Kansas congressman which took aim at non-Christians and LGBTQ people.
“America had worshipped other Gods and called it multiculturalism,” the Republican said in a 2015 speech delivered during the “God and Country Rally” at Wichita’s Summit Church, citing a sermon by Rev. Joe Wright. “We’d endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.”
The New Jersey Senator wanted to know how those views would affect Pompeo’s leadership as Secretary of State.
“You’re going to be dealing with Muslim states, and with Muslim issues, and I do not necessarily concur that you are [advancing] the values of our nation when you believe there are people in our country that are perverse,” Booker said.
“Yes or no, do you still believe gay sex is a perversion?” he asked.
Pompeo did not answer the question outright. He would tell Booker, however, that despite his personal opposition to same-sex marriage, Pompeo treated his LGBTQ colleagues with respect at the CIA.
“I believe it’s the case we have married gay couples at the CIA,” the conservative remarked during the heated exchange. “You should know I treated them with the exact same set of rights. […] My respect for every individual, regardless of the sexual orientation, is the same.”
Despite Pompeo’s assertion he didn’t openly discriminate against LGBTQ government workers, INTO has previously reported on Pompeo’s long history of opposing queer and trans equalitywhich includes working with hate groups.
As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, the staunch conservative opposed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and pushed legislation to rollback the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges. Pompeo referred to the legalization of same-sex unions as a “shocking abuse of power.”
Remarking on whether the Pentagon should allow LGBTQ troops to serve openly, Pompeo claimed the military shouldn’t “promote social ideas that do not reflect the values of our nation.”
“When you enter the army you give up a few of your rights,” he remarked during a 2013 Congressional debate.
Booker also pressed Pompeo on his now-infamous assertion that Muslims were silent following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, despite the fact that Islamic faith leaders signed onto a statement condemning the attacks.
“You said people who are silent are complicit in those terrorist attacks,” the Senator said. “Do you think that Muslim Americans in this country who serve in our military, who serve in the State department, their failure to speak up are they complicit in terrorist attacks?”
Pompeo again deflected.
“Each and every human, not just Americans, each and every human being has an obligation to push back against this extremist use of violence, from whatever faith,” he stated.
If Pompeo is confirmed to the position of Secretary of State, he will replace one of the only officials in the White House supportive of LGBTQ rights. Tillerson put out statements recognizing Pride Month and condemning anti-LGBTQ violence on the Transgender Day of Remembrance, even while the rest of the administration failed to publicly address them.