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Trump Continues Obama LGBT Foreign Policy

To the surprise of no one but gullible Christians and gullible gays who couldn’t see what was right in front of them: [1]

The Trump administration has decided to keep President Barack Obama’s top advocate for gay rights issues at the State Department in defiance of evangelical groups who called for his immediate expulsion, Foreign Policy has learned.

Randy Berry, the Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons, is continuing “in his role under the current administration,” a State Department spokesperson said on Monday. The move marks the latest surprise decision by President Donald Trump on gay rights as he juggles the agenda of his staunchly conservative cabinet and top aides, and his cosmopolitan, New York-bred daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner.


The special envoy position was created during the Obama years to fight back against the discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people around the globe. Conservative groups have called the office an attempt to “entrench the LGBTI agenda” into the United States government, and accuse it of browbeating countries opposed to gay-friendly school textbooks and same-sex marriage.

Berry repeatedly stressed that his goal was to convince foreign governments to stop violence against gays and lesbians rather than pressure every nation to allow same-sex marriage. “He was mindful not to be heavy-handed or overly colonial,” said Murray, who mentioned his work in countries with less tolerance for LGBT people, such as Uganda and Nigeria.

On Jan. 20, in one of the Obama administration’s final acts, it also named Berry deputy assistant secretary to the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Conservative groups blasted that decision as an 11th-hour move to place an LGBT-friendly diplomat in a position that has influence over U.S. policies at the United Nations. The State Department spokesperson said Berry maintains his duties in both roles in the Trump administration.

The spokesperson declined to say why Berry wasn’t reassigned or dismissed last month when a slew of other political and career officials were booted by Trump loyalists. A recently updated State Department organizational chart shows continued vacancies in positions opposed by Republicans on ideological grounds, such as the Special Envoy for Climate Change, a position previously filled by Jonathan Pershing. But Berry’s name and position remain intact.

Emphasis mine.

I suppose the State Department will continue to catechize missionaries from post-Christian America. [2] Look, if the US State Department stands up to countries that severely persecute LGBTs, especially with violence, well, I support the US State Department. But here’s the memo President Obama signed directing a policy change across the US Government, regarding LGBTs. [3]Here are two particularly problematic paragraphs:

Sec. 3Foreign Assistance to Protect Human Rights and Advance Nondiscrimination.  Agencies involved with foreign aid, assistance, and development shall enhance their ongoing efforts to ensure regular Federal Government engagement with governments, citizens, civil society, and the private sector in order to build respect for the human rights of LGBT persons.


Sec. 5Engaging International Organizations in the Fight Against LGBT Discrimination.  Multilateral fora and international organizations are key vehicles to promote respect for the human rights of LGBT persons and to bring global attention to LGBT issues.  Building on the State Department’s leadership in this area, agencies engaged abroad should strengthen the work they have begun and initiate additional efforts in these multilateral fora and organizations to:  counter discrimination on the basis of LGBT status; broaden the number of countries willing to support and defend LGBT issues in the multilateral arena; strengthen the role of civil society advocates on behalf of LGBT issues within and through multilateral fora; and strengthen the policies and programming of multilateral institutions on LGBT issues.

To the extent this means that the US Government fights traditional religious and cultural family values through official channels and through civil society (e.g., like partnering with George Soros-funded organizations and others to undermine Orthodox Christian values in Macedonia [4]), I strongly oppose my government.

Does Donald Trump wish to continue funding America’s culture war mercenaries abroad? The signs do not look good.

At some point, I’m betting that conservative Christians are going to wake up and realize that they’ve been played for chumps. I wonder what Mike Pence is going to do on the day he wakes up and realizes this? I’m not the only one who does.  [5]

UPDATE: Please notice that the Executive Order on religious liberty is now, apparently, dead. Trump did promise to sign the First Amendment Defense Act if Congress sends it to his desk. Well, Congress?

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75 Comments To "Trump Continues Obama LGBT Foreign Policy"

#1 Comment By jamie On February 14, 2017 @ 1:00 pm


And then there’s this:
“Trump Justice Department Signals An End To Transgender Locker Room Lunacy In Public Schools”

It’s true Trump has been able to take many executive actions that would be the preference of social conservatives.

But it’s also true that legislation in congress has almost completely ground to a halt, none of these acts will become permanent policy and when they are challenged in court the courts will refer to the existing law.

Why is Congress not moving? Mostly because there is no consensus whatsoever on ACA repeal, Trump’s nominees have been contentious and now it appears the Senate is gearing up for Intel committee hearings on Flynn. Trump’s working relationship with Congress is nil, they aren’t coordinated in any meaningful way and there seems to be no coherent agenda. Trump doesn’t have the political skills necessary to move legislation; references to the “swamp” seem to include his allies in Congress. They give him every fealty and he returns the favor with contempt.

So Trump simply rules by ukase, and though the majority in the legislature can’t get its act together to pass bills, it does mostly agree that they won’t interfere as long as it doesn’t threaten their jobs.

#2 Comment By Digory On February 14, 2017 @ 1:03 pm

Interesting to revisit C.G.P. Grey’s little video on “Rules for Rulers.” [6] I thought I had found it through this site, but maybe I’m misremembering.

This is the first election in which evangelicals were not claiming to be the “morality of the people,” but a minority group. And at that point, we’re one of many keys to power. As Grey explains toward the end, it’s foolhardy to spend more on bloc loyalty than you have to. And the cheapest way to get evangelical loyalty is to be anti-Roe. Any blame will fall mostly on the judges, and if Roe falls, blue states pick it back up.

Support for evangelicals on LGBT issues is costly, and practically, unnecessary. We’re kind of like unions begging democrats to stop right-to-work legislation, except we don’t really even make strategic campaign donations. And we’ll stay loyal to the anti-Roe party, no matter what comes on LGBT issues.

If Evangelicals were actually speaking for the common man’s morality, Trump might see the issue as worth some political capital. Reading articles about Elizabeth II’s ascension and Edward VIII’s abdication, it is mindblowing that *anglicans* 80 years ago advised a *hereditary monarch* that a divorced woman as queen would cause a constitutional crisis because the people would reject her.

Can you imagine any American today gaining traction on twitter with that view? The Fallwell-era Religious Right retained some hope of that — that if government left us alone, our local institutions were strong enough that we’d do all right raising John and Jane here in flyover country.

I’m not sure that’s right anymore. Much of the “church” is being revealed as an auxiliary of other failing institutions. Vast swathes of it are infertile. And that’s why the Benedict Option feels necessary even in a Trump presidency.

#3 Comment By Hound of Ulster On February 14, 2017 @ 2:19 pm

Conmen gotta con. Trump is a New Yorker when it comes down to it, and this move is totally unsurprising in that context. It will all be academic when Flynn rats him out on the Russia connection.

#4 Comment By Potato On February 14, 2017 @ 2:28 pm

Trump and his very influential children are, after all, creatures of upper crust Manhattan society where being gay ceased to be a big deal a long time ago. The Trumps undoubtedly have lots of friends and business colleagues who are gay and they do not really get why it bothers anyone. I think this is just a total non-issue for him.

One can at least hope that this is the case.

[NFR: Maybe it’s a perspective thing. Having lived in NYC and worked in the NY media for five years, I would be really shocked if Trump had the least scruples against homosexuality. It is such a non-issue there. It is hard to explain to people who don’t live in Manhattan what a non-issue it is there. My hope is that Trump will recognize that it’s in his political interest to throw some serious bones to religious and social conservatives. But his heart won’t be in it. He is not one of us, and cannot even imagine what it’s like to be us. — RD]

#5 Comment By CharleyCarp On February 14, 2017 @ 2:31 pm

It seems to me that religious conservatives weren’t played for chumps when asked to support Trump over Clinton: that deal was clear. They played themselves for chumps, though, in backing Trump against 16 candidates all of whom lived personally closer to their stated values, each of whom would have nominated a Judge Gorsuch.

From the outside, it’s pretty easy to think that all the talk of values and Christianity is just bs, cover for lust for power and a desire to control. I guess plenty of people already thought this, but, like GWB used to say, the game is crucially played between the 40 yard lines. In the next turn of the wheel a lot of people in that range are going to come at things differently.

#6 Comment By John On February 14, 2017 @ 2:49 pm

For all of you out there who are saying you had to pick between two evils may I remind you that liberals who couldn’t stand Clinton could have gone with Stein of the Green Party and conservatives who could not press the button for Trump oils Press the button for Libertarian Gary Johnson or some conservative independent guy running from Utah. (Ftr I am a liberal who went for Johnson in spite of his economic policies because he was at least s governor).

I know the system is rigf d against third party nominees and most people write them off as sore losers who get no public recognition since the media refuses to cover them or welcome them into the debates but the basic fact no one remembers is at the end of the day, when you are in the voting booth, all names are equal and all names have the same chance of getting picked.

You need only think that the so-called protest candidate can win, and vote accordingly.

The more you think we must pick between the lesser of two evils the more likely we will end up with vomit-inducing candidates like Trump and Clinton.

#7 Comment By Alex (From SF) On February 14, 2017 @ 3:12 pm

This is a bit off-topic, but the fact that Rod draws a line between severe discrimination against gays and things like disallowing gay marriage has me wondering how social conservatives envision gays fitting into society. That is, if Rod Dreher could magically change politics and culture in America so that it was the way he liked it, what would people who are gay do in such a world? Would they remain celibate? Would they have gay relationships that were open, but could not be officially recognized? Would they have gay relationships “in the closet”? Or do you think that gay people can be converted to straight people with appropriate treatments?

I’m sure social conservatives differ on the above, but I am curious- is there any consensus in social conservative camps on what being gay in a socially conservative community should look like?

#8 Comment By DH On February 14, 2017 @ 4:27 pm

Funny how the generally high-brow commentariat here from the non-Conservative side chide the right for lack of political chops in this case. It seems to me more than a few folks are forgetting the tendency of a representative democracy to center around that dreaded “c” word… compromise. The largest tool arguably in the arsenal of the President is not the EO but the bully pulpit.

Trump/Trump’s Team is hashing out a middle ground where it will be a little messy and not ideal for either side. That’s the historical trend and will return the social fabric of America to an ever-so-slightly normalized state.

I get what Rod is saying here, but I would distinguish your larger trend from focusing too intently on one issue or action. We absolutely have to divorce ourselves when it comes to seeing the forest for the trees.

As a Christian, I am called to withstand what my Lord decides to put in front of me. Our Christian forefathers and foremothers endured far worse and our brethren in areas across the world are enduring worse.

#9 Comment By Captain P On February 14, 2017 @ 4:42 pm

The Religious Right (TM) figures like Falwell were enthusiastically pro-Trump in the way that they are enthusiastically pro-every-Republican-nominee.

90% of the serious rank-and-file conservative Christians I know saw plenty of flaws in Trump, and were at most only mildly warm in their views of him.

#10 Comment By A Libertarian Guy On February 14, 2017 @ 5:09 pm

BadReligion (at 2:09am 2-14-17) stated:

“When those same ‘traditional values’ lead to people becoming or remaining marginalized (i.e. target practice) due to unchosen, harmless characteristics, then these ‘values’ have no positive value at all.”

My reply:

American society isn’t using gays for target practice, and society wasn’t targeting gays in the decade leading up to Obergefell. Society isn’t responsible for individuals who target gays for violence.

Anal sex is a chosen act, and it is not an inherently harmless act. Apparently, BadReligion forgot that AIDS was passed around big time amongst gay men in the 1980’s.

I do believe that adult gays should be left alone concerning consenting acts done in private. But it’s undeniable that anal sex (male-male or male-female) IS a risky act.

JD (at 5:27am 2-14-17) stated:

“It’s the [Christian] values themselves that lead to private violence, and public persecutions [against gays].”

My reply:

That statement is 100% bulls…. false. One-man/one-woman marriage is rooted in human nature. Believing that, does not lead to violence against gays. Even atheists can believe in one-man/one-woman marriage.

Reader John (at 8:06am 2-14-17) brought up the First Amendment Defense Act.

I agree that the wording of the Act is flawed. But the FADA really shouldn’t be needed. The Thirteenth Amendment forbids forcing people to perform services against their will. Clearly, an entrepreneur should be free to choose to turn down any request to do a job he (or she) doesn’t want to do, and for any reason, without being sued. Entrepreneurs have no moral obligation to fill all requests to perform services (there’s only so many hours in a week). Refusing to perform services is not the same as refusing to sell groceries to a person. A wedding is an event, not a person. A videographer (for example) has no moral obligation to accept a request to video a wet t-shirt contest. Electing to not perform services for gay weddings is not discrimination because a wedding is an event, just as a wet t-shirt contest is an event.

The Thirteenth Amendment, Section 1: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

#11 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On February 14, 2017 @ 5:10 pm

My hopes vested in Trump since September 2015 (when I became a staunch supporter) have not been disappointed, despite what the naysayers have been saying all along. On this issue, however, I’m worried that Trump won’t be able to reject the misguided advice of his daughter. Ivanka needs to realize that her dad won’t be re-elected if he continues the PC charade on LGBT. If Trump’s not re-elected, he will be a “loser” like the single term Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush and unlike two-term “winners” Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

Not good.

#12 Comment By Mungling On February 14, 2017 @ 5:15 pm

Not quite sure why there are a dozen comments accusing Rod of wanting to condemn foreign LGBTQ+ individuals to violence and harassment when that was explicitly what he said he wouldn’t do.

If you’re confused, here’s an analogy: I suspect that you would be opposed to the efforts of some countries to harass, intimidate and even kill Christians but you would probably be less enthused about a policy which attempts to coerce and intimidate individuals into celebrating and promoting Christianity.

#13 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 14, 2017 @ 5:26 pm

Within the US Trump’s SCOTUS nominees can almost certainly be relied on to break the back of Obergefell, to say nothing of Casey and Roe.

Wishful thinking. This is what comes of convincing yourself that activist judges are just doing whatever they want, and when your activist judges get on the inside, they will do whatever you have been wanting them to do.

I see valid grounds to overturn Obergefell. I don’t expect it to happen for twenty years, and when it does, I don’t expect the practice of issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples will change much. I also don’t much care about that. I care that the equal protection clause is being twisted and stretched into a license for narcissism — I want it and I want it so bad I have a constitutional right to it.

That’s pretty much what relying on new nominees to deliver your preferred breakage amounts to also. In actual fact, justices and judges carefully examined existing jurisprudence, including the language of the constitution itself, to arrive at reasoned conclusions expounding what the law means. They get it wrong sometimes, but its not about in groups and out groups and who’s cool this court session.

It would be almost impossible to credibly overturn Roe v. Wade. To do that, one has to make a case that a fetus IS in fact a person, and that takes more than emoting that you believe it. What may well be possible is to re-examine quickening as the boundary after which a state may prohibit abortion (as long as the pregnant woman’s life or health are not in danger). Quickening was a valid legal and medical standard in 1973, but based on medical advances since then, it may well be consistent with Justice Blackmun’s original reasoning that known facts have changed, and 20 weeks would be a more reasonable boundary.

I think Bernie is right about that headline “Trump Justice Department Signals An End To Transgender Locker Room Lunacy In Public Schools” — and this will be one of the silver linings of having to put up with a whining narcissist in the White House. The Justice Dept. and the Dept. of Ed are not going to be pushing schools to admit students to bathrooms and locker rooms based on “gender identity,” and in the absence of such pressure, there is no legal basis to do so. Hopefully this stuff will have blown off the stage by 2020, and nobody will take it seriously any more.

#14 Comment By Du Bartas On February 14, 2017 @ 6:04 pm

When gender is all you ask about, gender is all you see: “…or whether it was deliberate and could tell us something about the place of gender in Neolithic society.”

#15 Comment By Kalmia On February 14, 2017 @ 6:24 pm

Surely the First Amendment Defense Act would be dead-on-arrival in the Senate as long as the filibuster is in place for legislation like it? No way the Democrats let it pass.

Tbh, I regard pie-in-the-sky proposals like that as “playing conservative Christians for suckers” far more than leaving in place some guy who’s job appears mostly to be about trying to encourage the Ugandans not to be mean to gays (but who is sufficiently stricken by his white guilt that he doesn’t want to be “colonial” about it!).

And anyway, what can be done by executive order can also be undone by it.

Supreme Court appointments are the big deal item, and I think Eric Metaxas et al. can feel quietly happy with Neil Gorsuch. I doubt very much that anything dramatic like Obergefell or Roe v Wade getting overturned will be likely to happen, but RFRA should be in solid shape for few years yet, especially if Trump manages to replace one of the progressive justices.

#16 Comment By Rich S On February 14, 2017 @ 9:39 pm

Gay Canadian Daoist here.

Honestly I’m not at all surprised that Trump hasn’t moved on culture war issues. He’s struggling (and failing) to handle his big ticket promises like the “it’s not a Muslim ban” Muslim ban, let alone being the best jobs President ever. Plus there’s the ongoing topic of how closely the Trump campaign coordinated with foreign intelligence services.

You’re not going to get much action out of him. Perhaps nothing more than this. You’ll get Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, and he’s a better than even chance of being favourable to religious liberty. If I were them, I’d be grateful for getting at least that.

#17 Comment By VikingLS On February 14, 2017 @ 11:52 pm


Yeah I think you nailed it.

#18 Comment By JonF On February 15, 2017 @ 6:14 am

Re: Ivanka needs to realize that her dad won’t be re-elected if he continues the PC charade on LGBT.

No, that won’t cost the election– only a few extremists on both sides make that their single issue voting filter. And large segments even on the Right are becoming LGBT friendly.

#19 Comment By Not so sure any more On February 15, 2017 @ 7:57 am

For reductions in violence against LGBT folks to be achieved, which I think there is broad consensus in favour of here, some element of encouragement of greater acceptance LGBT people will become required. In that sense I don’t see a discrepancy between what is written there.

I guess the comment by Alex (from SF) above has kind of made me wonder what it is we’re aiming for here with respect to societal attitudes to LGBT stuff. I work with young people and they have a totally different attitude to this stuff than people from my generation and those kids who are gay (and there’s always a couple) don’t face the same degree of bullying or violence basically that they would have 20-30 years ago when I started. That’s a good thing overall, no two ways about it.

#20 Comment By Polichinello On February 15, 2017 @ 9:32 am

…and conservatives who could not press the button for Trump oils Press the button for Libertarian Gary Johnson or some conservative independent guy running from Utah…

Johnson was an orthodox libertarian and in favor of open borders, and Bill Kristol’s puppet was no better, as he wanted both open borders and open-ended wars.

Trump really was the only option, as the other were open-borders fanatic (Jeb & Kasich) or hopelessly unelectable NRO-types, such as Cruz or Santorum.

If Jeb or Kasich had admitted their problem with the base on immigration and promised solid enforcement measures for years before any amnesty (a border barrier, biometric tracking and mandatory e-Verify), we might be having a different conversation, but their argument to their base was pure Judge Smails–“You’ll get nothing and like it!”

#21 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On February 15, 2017 @ 4:27 pm

“that won’t cost the election– only a few extremists on both sides make that their single issue voting filter”

Evangelicals aren’t “extremists. Also, by summer of 2020 Trump will presumably have built the Wall and deported 8 million or more immigrants. That problem thus solved, social conservatives who are immigration patriots (hugely overlapping categories) will measure Trump overwhelmingly by his stance on religious liberty.

#22 Comment By William Burns On February 15, 2017 @ 4:51 pm

A mildly pro-gay foreign policy is useful if you want to start a war with Iran. So there’s that.

#23 Comment By Mia On February 15, 2017 @ 8:20 pm

I’m wondering, what is your take on Gorsuch’s membership in a very, very liberal CO church?

[NFR: I don’t know. It concerns me, I suppose, but I don’t want him to be a pastor. I want him to be a good Supreme Court justice. — RD]

#24 Comment By JonF On February 16, 2017 @ 6:26 am

Re: Trump really was the only option, as the other were open-borders fanatic (Jeb & Kasich)

To be fair here neither of those gentlemen believe in “open borders”, or at least show no evidence they do. Could we at least try to debate politics without inserting hyperbole? And why do you reduce conservatism, which has a good deal to day on many topics (whether I agree with it or not) to the single issue of immigration?

#25 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 16, 2017 @ 9:57 am

Notably liberal church… you mean the Episcopalians? Well, he serves on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, with a jurisdiction that includes his native Colorado. One of my favorite legal citations is Bryce v. St. Aidan’s, that would be St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church — a case in which a youth minister discovered to have a civil same sex relationship with a UCC minister was dismissed. The two filed harassment charges, which were duly dismissed by the district court, and the Tenth Circuit. A little matter called church autonomy in matters of faith and doctrine. Apparently EVERY Episcopal church isn’t so “liberal.” I still think of it as the church whose vicars rode out with colonial era Virginia sheriffs to whip Baptist ministers caught preaching without a license.