Antony Blinken, Secretary of State Nominee, Vows to Protect LGBTQ Rights

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday January 22, 2021

Antony Blinken during confirmation hearing on Jan. 19
Antony Blinken during confirmation hearing on Jan. 19  (Source:CNBC / YouTube)

Antony Blinken, President Biden's pick for Secretary of State, said on Tuesday he would immediately appoint an LGBTQI envoy, allow U.S. embassies to fly the Pride flag, and make a formal repudiation of the "Commission on Unalienable Rights," CNN reports.

Blinken made these comments during his confirmation hearing in front of the Foreign Relations Committee, signaling an about-face from the Trump administration, which regularly rolled back LGBTQ rights and protections.

Unsurprisingly, the Trump administration left the position of the special envoy vacant. Blinken said that such an appointment now is a matter of "real urgency" and that "We've seen violence directed against LGBTQI people around the world increase. We've seen, I believe, the highest number of murders of transgender people, particularly women of color, that we've seen ever.

"And so I think the United States playing the role that it should be playing in standing up for and defending the rights of LGBTQI people is something that the Department is going to take on and take on immediately."

The Trump administration also denied embassies permission to fly the Pride flag in commemoration of Pride month. Blinken said he would reverse this, as well as issue an official repudiation of "The Commission on Unalienable Rights" by his predecessor, Mike Pompeo, which concluded that LGBTQ rights are not worth defending.

In particular, the Trump administration had been hostile toward the transgender community — issuing a ban on transgender military service, and rolling back protections against discrimination in healthcare.

Blinken said that he would also aim to engage with lawmakers in a bipartisan fashion, as well as rebuilding alliances damaged by the Trump administration while confronting threats posed by Russia, North Korea, and by climate change.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

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