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Sessions Confirmation as Attorney General Riles LGBTQ Advocates

Image: Sessions Attorney General Confirmation Hearing
A file picture dated 10 January 2017 shows Republican Senator from Alabama, Jeff Sessions, preparing to testify at his confirmation hearing to be Trump's attorney general. Jim LoScalzo / EPA

President Donald Trump has sent mixed signals to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans regarding where he stands on LGBTQ issues, but one area where he has consistently riled the community is his presidential cabinet picks. And Jeff sessions, who was confirmed Wednesday as Trump's attorney general, has struck a particularly negative chord.

Shortly after he was confirmed -- by a slim margin of 52 to 47 -- a number of the country's leading LGBTQ-rights groups voiced their concern regarding someone they say has an abysmal track record on LGBTQ issues.

"It's deeply disturbing that Jeff Sessions, who has demonstrated a clear animus against so many Americans -- including the LGBTQ community, women and people of color -- could be charged with running the very system of justice designed to protect them," Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest LGBTQ-rights organization, said in a statement.

"The man now in charge of enforcing hate crimes protections doesn't even think they should exist -- or that LGBTQ people need them," Griffin added.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, called Sessions' confirmation a "deeply distressing day for civil rights."

"When it comes to LGBT people, Sen. Sessions' track record is bleak. He has consistently opposed legal protections for or even recognition of LGBT people, voting against the 2009 Hate Crimes Prevention Act, protections for LGBT survivors of sexual violence under the Violence Against Women Act, and the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy," Keisling said in a statement sent to NBC Out.
Keisling also noted Sessions was a leading proponent of the Federal Marriage amendment, which would have amended the U.S. Constitution to prevent same-sex couples from marrying.

Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Lambda Legal, the country's oldest and largest national legal organization, called Sessions' confirmation "a travesty"

"The chief lawyer of the United States is now someone who has devoted his whole life to obstructing civil rights. He is a lifelong opponent of the civil rights of LGBT people, people of color, women and immigrants," Tiven stated. "He is an opponent of marriage equality and a dogged foe of immigrants and refugees — even LGBT people fleeing persecution."

Aside from their mutual opposition to Sessions, all three advocacy groups had a similar takeaway message for the new attorney general and his boss, Donald Trump: We'll be watching you, and we'll fight any attempt to roll back our rights.

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