Randy Berry, one of the top advocates of gay rights from the Obama administration, will be kept on the State Department by the Trump administration, Foreign Policy reports.
He became the first person to hold the position of the State Department’s Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons, when he was awarded the position in April 2015.
The move is surprising to gay-rights supporters, who have consistently voiced concerns about the Trump administration’s effect on the LGBTQ community.
For example, Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern published a screed last year on how Donald Trump “would be an absolute catastrophe for LGBTQ rights in America” and called the Trump administration “a looming disaster.”
Stern notes that Trump didn’t say much about LGBTQ rights during his campaign, but expressed grave concern nonetheless.
“Trump may not care much about marriage equality… but the Republican Party does. And if it regains a hold on the executive branch, there is essentially no limit to the havoc it can wreak on LGBTQ rights,” he argued.
Even the Human Rights Campaign, one of the top gay advocacy nonprofits in the United States, had expressed grave concern over the Trump presidency’s effect on gay rights. “Trump has been a consistent opponent of marriage equality,” claimed the Human Rights Campaign’s Fact Sheet for the recent election.
In keeping Randy Berry, the Trump administration is signaling that they may be serious about protecting gay rights — even if some individual members of the administration may be staunchly against gay marriage (such as Pence).
The majority of Republican millennials favor allowing gays to marry legally, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.
“This is really surprising to me,” Ross Murray, the Director of Programs at GLAAD, another well known pro-LGBTQ rights group, told Foreign Policy.
“I don’t think I can applaud it until I see what his mandate becomes in this administration,” he added. “But Berry has been really effective in that job.”