A new twist on old McCarthyism.
A leading social conservative organization is calling on the Trump administration to “ferret out” employees at the State Department who worked to promote LGBT rights and replace them with conservatives.
The Family Research Council, in a little-noticed statement on Thursday, accused the Obama administration of having deployed the State Department to advance an LGBT agenda, and argued it was incumbent on the next secretary of state ― likely ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson ― to stop it.
“I certainly don’t see Tillerson cut from the same cloth as [Hillary] Clinton or [John] Kerry, but he doesn’t have to be for these anti-life, liberal social policies to continue,” said a statement that appears to be written by the group’s president, Tony Perkins. “He must have the courage to stop the promotion of this anti-family, anti-life agenda, which is very much a question mark given that he capitulated to activists pushing to liberalize the Boy Scouts’ policy on homosexuality when he was at the helm of the organization.
“The incoming administration needs to make clear that these liberal policies will be reversed and the ‘activists’ within the State Department promoting them will be ferreted out and will be replaced by conservatives who will ensure the State Department focuses on true international human rights like religious liberty which is under unprecedented assault,” the statement concludes.
The Family Research Council is one of the last remaining major interest groups to wage these types of cultural wars. But there is a dark, McCarthyist undertone to the idea that an incoming administration should remove civil servants who have pushed for the advancement of LGBT rights; in part because it’s a slippery slope to removing people who are, themselves, LGBT.
Trump has been far more moderate on LGBT rights than many Republicans ― perhaps a reflection of his cosmopolitan, socially liberal upbringing. And it would be an abrupt about-face for him to take this advice after repeatedly criticizing Hillary Clinton for not standing up further to countries that didn’t have strong records on LGBT rights.
Indeed, after this article was published, Trump’s transition team released a statement expressing strong opposition to the Family Research Council’s appeal.
“President-elect Trump campaigned on a message of unity in order to bring all Americans together. To think that discrimination of any kind will be condoned or tolerated in a Trump Administration is simply absurd,” Trump spokesman Jason Miller said.
But Trump’s transition team has also tried a variation of fettering at another agency. His transition sought the names of Department of Energy employees that worked on climate change matters. The department this week denied that request.
This article has been updated to include comment from a Trump transition spokesman.