(WB) The State Department on Monday once again defended the decision to appoint a representative of an organization that strongly opposes LGBT and intersex rights to the U.S. delegation to an annual U.N. women’s conference.
“The United States does seek to include individuals from civil society organizations with diverse viewpoints and allow them to observe the U.N. in action during the Commission on the Status of Women,” Acting spokesperson Mark Toner told the Washington Blade during his daily press briefing.
The State Department last week announced Center for Family and Human Rights Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti and Heritage Foundation Associate for Social Issues at the U.N. Grace Melton is among the members of the U.S. delegation to the conference that is scheduled to end on March 24.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated C-FAM as a hate group, noting its strong opposition to LGBT and intersex rights.
The Human Rights Campaign, the Council for Global Equality, Human Rights First and OutRight Action International have urged Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to rescind the appointments. C-FAM President Austin Ruse on March 15 described OutRight Action International as “a radical homosexual group” that “has started a global campaign to have Lisa (Correnti) removed from the U.S. delegation” in a fundraising letter it sent to its supporters.
“This radical group charges that C-FAM is a hate group because we do not accept the homosexual agenda,” wrote Ruse.
OutRight Action International has accused C-FAM of violating federal ethics laws with its fundraising appeal.
OutRight Action International Executive Director Jessica Stern on March 17 asked U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley to remove Correnti from the delegation and ban C-FAM from the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women while their fundraising practices are under investigation.
“The question we are asking now is: Is it ethical for a civil society representative to directly profit from the appointment to a U.S. government delegation, or is this a conflict of interest,” asked Stern in her letter to Haley.
“To us, this seems very much like a conflict of interest, and we urge you, as head of the delegation and ambassador to the U.N., to please remove C-FAM from the U.S. delegation to the Commission on Status of Women,” added Stern.
Toner on Monday did not specifically respond to the Blade’s question about OutRight Action International’s allegation.
He said Correnti and Melton can attend formal commission meetings and “side events.”
“They’re not, however, authorized to negotiate or speak on behalf of the United States,” he added.
Toner referred the Blade to the White House for further comment, noting “they’re responsible for the selection of these individuals (Correnti and Melton) who participate in this commission.”
- Michael K. Lavers, Washington Blade courtesy of the National LGBTQ Media Association