Trump intends to a nominate notorious foe of LGBT rights, Republican Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, to be ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, according to the White House.
In 2015, Brownback issued an executive order rescinding protections for state workers who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Brownback all but proclaimed that LGBT people should have fewer rights. The order lifts protections against firing, discriminating against, or harassing a state worker for being anything but straight. Under Brownback’s administration, that person had no right to file a complaint as a member of a legally protected class of people.
He framed his order as “protecting the religious freedom of clergy and organizations that opposed same-sex marriage”—just as Kansas was beginning to comply with the landmark ruling by the US Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage, which Brownback had campaigned against.
Brownback tweeted on Thursday,
Religious Freedom is the first freedom. The choice of what you do with your own soul. I am honored to serve such an important cause. -SDB
— Sam Brownback (@govsambrownback) July 27, 2017
Right-wing groups praised the nomination—particularly anti-gay-rights and anti-abortion groups. Brownback would be the second person to run the office who was not a member of the clergy. John Hanford, who ran the office under President George W. Bush, was a Presbyterian minister. President Obama nominated a Baptist pastor and a rabbi to head the office. Brownback, a devout Catholic, will be the fifth person to run the office, which was created in 1998 by legislation that Brownback sponsored as a congressman.
“He leaves behind a legacy of failed leadership,” said State Rep. Melissa Rooker, a moderate Republican who has frequently opposed Brownback’s policies.
Rep. Jim Ward, the Democratic leader in the Kansas House, said he was “not surprised” to hear of the appointment, which has been rumored in Topeka for months. “I’m not going to miss him,” Ward said. “He has left a state in carnage and destruction.”
Ward said Brownback “hasn’t embraced diversity” consistently in Kansas. “Hopefully, this job that he’ll step into, he’ll realize that Americans are of all kinds of faith.”