Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump's pick as the next secretary of state, reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage on Thursday during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
He made the remarks after Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., asked Pompeo, who is currently the CIA director, whether he believed being gay is "a perversion."
"When I was a politician, I had a very clear view on whether it was appropriate for two same-sex persons to marry," Pompeo responded. "I stand by that."
"So do you not believe it is appropriate for two gay people to marry?" Booker asked.
"Senator, I continue to hold that view," Pompeo replied.
“You’re going to be representing this country and their values abroad in nations where gays individuals are under untold persecution, untold violence,” Booker continued. "Your views do matter."
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Civil rights rights groups swiftly condemned Pompeo's comments and called into question his suitability to serve as secretary of state.
“Mike Pompeo's reaffirmed opposition to marriage equality and LGBTQ rights further proves that he is dangerously wrong to serve as our nation’s chief diplomat,” Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of the LGBTQ rights group GLAAD, said in a statement.
“His personal ties to anti-LGBTQ hate groups and clear refusal to support the hard-fought equal rights of the LGBTQ community make him wholly unqualified to promote human rights abroad," Ellis continued.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) shared a tweet that listed several landmark Supreme Court cases that expanded LGBTQ rights and wrote, "Mike Pompeo may believe that same-sex marriage is 'inappropriate' and that gay sex is a 'perversion' but thankfully the Supreme Court doesn't agree."
After choosing Pompeo to replace Rex Tillerson, who was ousted last month as secretary of state, Trump asserted Pompeo would "do a fantastic job" in the role, but LGBTQ advocates have been sounding the alarms over his anti-LGBTQ record ever since his nomination was announced.
During his three terms as a Kansas congressman, Pompeo opposed the repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays, saying, "When you enter the Army you give up a few of your rights." On a panel at the Value Voters Summit in 2011, he also said, "We cannot use military to promote social ideas that do not reflect the values of your nation."
Pompeo also co-sponsored two unsuccessful bills — the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act of 2013 and the State Marriage Defense Act of 2014 — in response to the 2013 Supreme Court ruling, United States v. Windsor, which gutted the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
In 2015, when the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges ruling came down effectively legalizing same-sex marriage across the nation, Pompeo released a statement condemning the decision as a "shocking abuse of power" and vowing to "continue to fight to protect our most sacred institutions."
While Republicans largely expressed approval of Trump’s decision to choose Pompeo as the nation’s next top diplomat, he could potentially face an uphill confirmation battle with the GOP’s narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate. A simple majority is needed to confirm nominees, and Vice President Mike Pence has the ability to cast a tie-breaking vote.
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