On Monday, the rumor mill began to churn out names that could replace exiting White House chief of staff John Kelly. The name that appears to be rising to the top of the pile is that of North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, the House Freedom Caucus chair with a history of influencing the Trump administration’s most anti-LGBTQ policy moves.
According to Politico, Trump has been shopping around the idea of bringing Meadows on board, and discussions are at the point where Meadows has decided to publicly weigh in.
“Serving as chief of staff would be an incredible honor,” Meadows told Politico on Monday. “The president has a long list of qualified candidates and I know he’ll make the best selection for his administration and for the country.”
But giving Meadows a federal role could spell disaster for the LGBTQ community — which has already borne the brunt of the North Carolina Republican’s behind-the-scenes influence on Trump.
Meadows was one of the leading voices pressuring Trump to ban transgender troops. A July Axios report revealed that Meadows threatened not to vote on the military appropriations bill unless Trump banned transgender people from the military, and used his influence on the House Freedom Caucus to position it against the vote as well.
Meadows was also among a group of GOP representatives who drafted a November letter urging Trump to remove LGBTQ civil rights protections from the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) designed to replace NAFTA.
“We are…deeply concerned by the unprecedented inclusion [in the USMCA] of sexual orientation and gender identity language,” read the November 16 letter Meadows signed, which added that the inclusion of LGBTQ protections “will cause unnecessary confusion in future treaties as well as domestic laws and policies. It sets a dangerous precedent for courts and future administrations to build upon.”
Opposition to LGBTQ equality has been a central platform point for Meadows for many years. As a member of Congress, Meadows has long opposed same-sex marriage, going as far as sponsoring the 2013 Marriage and Religious Freedom Act — a bill that would have given anyone the option to refuse to recognize a legal same-sex marriage as long as they claimed it conflicted with their religious beliefs, and would have prohibited the federal government from taking any disciplinary action in the case.
Statewide, Meadows also voiced support for North Carolina’s Amendment 1, a successful 2012 ballot measure that amended the state constitution to prevent same-sex marriage (and was later overturned by a court).
Meadows’ anti-LGBTQ views are so extreme, the congressman even voted ‘No’ in 2013 on reauthorizing the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), designed to protect victims of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault. The majority of GOP opposition to the bill was driven by its inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity protections, and Meadows told the Boston Globe that year that his constituents in “God’s country” inspired him to vote against VAWA.
INTO reached out to Meadows’ communications staff for comment about the chief of staff rumors but did not receive a response.