The new United States Ambassador to the United Nations gave ambiguous responses to questions about LGBT people.
But that didn’t stop her from sailing through her Senate confirmation hearing.
Nikki Haley, 45, the former Governor of South Carolina, was confirmed Tuesday as the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. During her hearing, Haley was asked multiple times about her beliefs regarding LGBT people.
When U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) asked Haley how she intended to protect LGBT rights internationally, she responded: “I think it’s very important that we talk about America’s values. We do not allow discrimination against anyone. I will always speak out about this. We don’t want to permit discrimination here or in any other country.”
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) followed by asking how Haley would represent the government in discussions regarding LGBT rights to which Haley replied: “I strongly believe that the U.S. should unabashedly promote American values. If confirmed, I will work to advance human rights for everyone.”
Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, a global LGBT organization, said she believes Haley will fight against discrimination.
“I am reassured that Governor Haley condemned discrimination on any basis,” Stern said in a news release. “On the surface these are strong and inclusive statements; that’s certainly how I want to interpret them.”
Stern, however, said she was disappointed Haley could not voice support for LGBT people.
“I can’t help but notice that Governor Haley didn’t say the words lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex. This is important. At the United Nations diplomats fight tooth and nail over every word because each one influences international law, public policies and government budgets,” Stern said. “When these words aren’t spoken, we see dire consequences like ‘conversion’ therapy of gay men, forced marriages of lesbians or mandatory sterilization of transgender people. We need LGBTI people to be specifically named and protected.”
Haley has a tough row to hoe. Right-wing Republicans have long disparaged the U.S. relationship with the U.N. Earlier this month, U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers (R-AL) introduced a bill calling for a termination of U.S. membership in the U.N., immediate cease of funding and removal of U.N. headquarters from New York City.
Haley, however, has faced challenges from her own party before. As Governor, she broke with far right Republicans in South Carolina, and authorized the Confederate battle flag be removed from the statehouse grounds. This gives organizations like Stern's hope.
“OutRight looks forward to working with the new ambassador to ensure an unequivocal and specific American voice against discrimination and violence internationally – on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status, gender, race, faith, nationality or any other status,” Stern said.
Having the U.S. participate in a LGBT core group is a priority for OutRight Action International, Stern said. When Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) asked Haley about the core group, she did not give a clear indication it would happen.
“Ambassador Haley must continue U.S. participation in the LGBT Core Group and continue in coalition with LGBT-friendly foreign governments like those that have recently fought for the Independence Expert on discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” Stern said.