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Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights: Blinken pledges to ‘repudiate’ State Department human rights commission


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Antony Blinken (Photo public domain)

President-elect Biden’s nominee to become the next secretary of state on Tuesday said he would “repudiate” a controversial human rights advisory commission his would-be predecessor created.

Outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2019 announced
the Commission for Unalienable Rights — chaired by Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard
Law School professor and former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican who is known for
her opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples — would stress
“natural laws and natural rights.”

Antony Blinken in response to a question that U.S. Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) asked during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reiterated his opposition to the commission that the Center for Global Equality and other advocacy groups have challenged in federal court.

Blinken told Markey he would once again allow ambassadors to fly Pride flags at their embassies if confirmed to succeed Pompeo. Blinken also pledged to raise the State Department’s special envoy for the promotion of LGBTQ rights to an ambassador level position.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry in 2015 announced the
creation of the position within the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy,
Human Rights and Labor. It has remained unfilled since 2017.

Markey has introduced a bill that would make the position
permanent within the State Department.

“After four years of Trump administration efforts to
specifically marginalize, minimalize, do damage to the rights of LGBTI people,
I think it’s going to be vital to appoint a seasoned expert on these issues,”
said Markey during Blinken’s confirmation hearing.

Blinken in response to Markey’s question about the envoy
position noted the numbers of transgender people — and particularly trans women
of color — who have been reported killed are the highest they have ever been.

“The U.S. playing the role it should be playing in
standing up for and defending the rights of LGBTIQ people is something that the
department is going to take on and take on immediately,” said Blinken.

Center for Global Equality Chair Mark Bromley welcomed
Blinken’s comments.

“We were delighted by Blinken’s immediate and
unequivocal support for the LGBTI special envoy position at the State
Department and for his interest in elevating it to ambassadorial rank,”
Bromley told the Washington Blade after the hearing ended. “He also
committed to repositioning human rights for LGBTI persons as an administration
priority, speaking movingly about violence impacting LGBTI individuals and
particularly trans people of color.”

“We look forward to working with the new secretary of state and
the new special envoy to promote global equality,” he added.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is among the committee members who said they support Blinken’s nomination. The Washington Post on Tuesday reported the U.S. Senate will likely confirm Blinken.

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Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights