January 4, 2017

Setting the Record State

It may be a new year, but there’s nothing new about the concerns surrounding the State Department’s liberal activism. While Americans were busy unwrapping presents, conservatives were tearing into something else: Obama’s record on social issues. After eight years of watching the State Department operate as a global base for abortion and sexual activism, most Republicans are ready to get back to the real business of diplomacy. That’s a tough job under normal circumstances, but after two terms of President Obama, the Trump team will have its hands full.

It may be a new year, but there’s nothing new about the concerns surrounding the State Department’s liberal activism. While Americans were busy unwrapping presents, conservatives were tearing into something else: Obama’s record on social issues. After eight years of watching the State Department operate as a global base for abortion and sexual activism, most Republicans are ready to get back to the real business of diplomacy. That’s a tough job under normal circumstances, but after two terms of President Obama, the Trump team will have its hands full.

Lately, there have been some who have suggested that (after almost a decade of proving otherwise) the State Department has nothing to do with abortion and sexual politics. Tell that to our friends around the globe, who’ve spent the last eight years trying to dodge this administration’s biggest export: rainbow flags and abortion dollars. Under President Obama, this radical agenda has completely infiltrated the State Department — usually eclipsing the agency’s other vital functions, like defending religious liberty. Obviously, America has a sincere interest in stopping the unjust persecution or targeting of any human being. But what’s happened for the last eight years is not the simple defense of those who are mistreated — it’s the elevation of people around the world based on sexual behavior.

While some people are falling for the line that social issues are “irrelevant” to the work of the State Department, the Trump team isn’t buying it. It’s keenly aware of the culture of extremism at the agency — so much so that it’s requested a detailed list of the ways the office has tried to promote “gender equality.” Late last month, The New York Times reported on the Trump memo, which asked the department to provide, among other things, details on the positions “‘whose primary functions are to promote such issues’ — as well as how much funding was directed to gender-related programs in 2016.”

The State Department’s report should be an easy one. After all, the White House has graciously done the work for them, boasting in great detail about the “gains” it’s made for the global LGBT community on its website (many courtesy of the agency that supposedly has no dealings in social issues). Here are a few of the highlights (and some the administration conveniently forgot):

  • Created a “Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons” at the State Department. When announcing the position, Secretary Kerry said: “Defending and promoting the human rights of LGBT persons is at the core of our commitment to advancing human rights globally.”

  • Funded LGBT advocacy around the world through the State Department through an entity called the Global Equality Fund. “The Department of State continues to grow the Global Equality Fund, a multi-sector public-private partnership to advance the human rights of LGBT persons globally. Since the Fund was launched in December 2011, it has allocated over $30 million to civil society organizations in 80 countries worldwide.”

  • Used the United Nations to push LGBT issues. “In 2011, we proudly partnered with South Africa to ensure passage of the first-ever U.N. resolution on the human rights of LGBTI persons, adopted by the Council.”

  • Flew the rainbow flag at U.S. embassies around the word, despite host countries’ complaints, concerns, and religious volatilities.

  • Appointed ambassadors who openly identify as gay or transgender in defiance of other countries’ values and traditions. As John Kerry said in 2014, “I’m working hard to ensure that by the end of my tenure, we will have lesbian, bisexual, and transgender ambassadors in our ranks as well.”

  • Marked International Human Rights Day with a controversial Geneva speech insisting that “gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”

  • Ordered the publication of overseas op-eds hostile to other countries’ views on sexuality to celebrate LGBT “pride.”

  • Made transgender issues a key negotiating point with other nations at the expense of diplomatic relations. “We have instructed our human rights and health officers to raise transgender issues in their host countries, and we have encouraged our public affairs officers to include the needs of transgender groups in their programming, so that we are showing that this is something that we’re going to engage in.”

  • Strong-armed other countries to accept America’s misguided policies on same-sex spouses. “Let me be clear,” Kerry lectured in a defiant speech, “we oppose any effort by any country to deny visas for spouses of American staff. It’s discriminatory, it’s unacceptable, it has no place in the 21st century.”

  • Revised the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual to allow same-sex couples to obtain passports under the names recognized by their state through their marriages or civil unions.

And it’s not just sexual liberalism that’s poisoning the international well. The State Department has loudly promoted overseas abortion policy and been quick to put taxpayer funds and resources behind it — regardless of other countries’ deeply held beliefs.

  • Illegally funneled millions of dollars to efforts aimed at legalizing abortion in Kenya, despite the Siljander Amendment, which bans the government from lobbying for or against abortion overseas with taxpayer dollars.

  • Used the access gained at the State Department to lobby for abortion-on-demand at the UN’s 4th Conference on Women in China. Clinton told the audience, “It is a violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families.”

In my own personal interactions with ambassadors, especially when FRC was helping to negotiate for Mariam Ibrahim’s release from a Sudanese prison, they all shared the same concern: that the State Department’s obsession with social issues had come at the expense of religious liberty. If Donald Trump is going to make our First Freedom a priority, as he’s pledged to do, he’ll have to start by rolling back the extremist culture at State. Is that impossible? Not at all. But having the right people around him will make all the difference.

Originally published here.

The Rockettes’ Red Glare

Well, what do you know! Liberals finally support the freedom of conscience — for other liberals. That’s right. The party that wants to jail, fine, punish, and bankrupt Christians with deeply held beliefs suddenly wants the same right to bow out of events they disagree with (but without the messy lawsuits they’re subjecting conservatives to). The country is getting a front-row seat to the Left’s hypocrisy thanks to the election of Donald Trump. From the First Lady’s dressmakers to Ivanka Trump’s art collection, we’ve witnessed liberals dump their tolerance-is-the-price-of-citizenship ideology faster than you can say Inauguration 2017.

The Left’s double standard was on full display over Christmas when the boss of the Radio City Rockettes, James Dolan, lamented the fact that part of his troop may be dancing at Trump’s swearing in.

“Finding out that it has been decided for us that Rockettes will be performing at the presidential inauguration makes me feel embarrassed and disappointed. The women I work with are intelligent and are full of love, and the decision of performing for a man [who] stands for everything we’re against is appalling. I am speaking for just myself but please know that after we found out the news, we have been performing with tears in our eyes and heavy hearts. We will not be forced! #notmypresident”

Of course, no one is forcing the Rockettes to perform — and those who choose not to dance have been accommodated. Unfortunately, that luxury was never granted to Christians like Aaron and Melissa Klein, Barronelle Stutzman, Elaine Hugenon, Betty and Richard Odgaard, and scores more. As upset as Dolan was, imagine if his dancers’ houses, businesses, reputations, and life savings were on the line. That’s the reality facing Christians who want the same right to decline jobs that violate their faith. Now that the shoe is on the (Rockettes’) other foot, liberals seem to have discovered the freedom of association, The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro muses.

“After years of telling religious people that they had a moral and legal obligation to throw out their religion and serve same-sex weddings, provide contraception, and fund abortion, the Left now realizes that the ability to pick and choose those to whom you give your services is actually rather vital.”

It’s just too bad that they don’t extend that same courtesy to people with other beliefs. For years, tolerance has been a one-way street that only liberals can drive on. And that isn’t likely to change, despite this (far less painful) encounter with conservatives’ struggle to live and work according to their beliefs. It’s time for the Left to recognize: No one should be forced to participate in something they morally oppose, especially not a nonessential function that someone else can provide. To suggest that people should surrender their views as a condition of public service is as un-American as it gets.

Originally published here.

One Resolution the GOP Is Ready to Break

The Obama administration may only be in power another three weeks, but it can still do plenty of damage. Last month’s anti-Israel decision made that abundantly clear, as the president’s team refused to use its power to put the brakes on a devastating Security Council resolution on America’s closest ally. Instead of vetoing the measure, the Obama administration allowed it to pass by abstaining, sparking outrage on Capitol Hill and abroad. As one of its first acts, the Republican majority plans on hitting back with a resolution of its own condemning Obama’s “stunt.”

“This Thursday, the House will not abstain from its responsibility and will vote on a bipartisan resolution reaffirming our longstanding policy in the region and support of Israel,” Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) warned. “The administration has lost all credibility when it comes to Israel. The administration’s stunt at the UN hurt our ally Israel and made peace in the region even more difficult to achieve.”

In the Senate, Jerry Moran (R-Kans.) is spearheading the resistance to the UN’s agenda, followed by Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) in the House. So far, the measures have been popular ones — even with Democrats, who see the administration’s abstention as a deep betrayal to Israel. “I have always believed that Israel can’t get a fair shake at the UN, and that is why Israel has relied on the United States to protect it from the anti-Israel tendencies of some UN Security Council members,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) argued after the vote.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was the next in line to blast President Obama. “Extremely frustrating, disappointing & confounding that the Administration has failed to veto the UN resolution,” he tweeted. “[P]ast administrations — both Democrat and Republican — have protected Israel from the vagaries of this biased institution. Unfortunately, this Administration has not followed in that path and its actions will move us further from peace in the Middle East.”

This should be a case study for conservatives as to how a secretary of state (and president) can use the UN to advance their agenda. The Obama administration advanced the UN resolution knowing they would never succeed in censuring Israel through Congress. This is exactly why we have to be concerned with what the State Department is doing and who’s leading it. To suggest otherwise is not only ignorant, but dangerous.

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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