Since his confirmation in April 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been building an ideological base at the State Department and at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Pompeo has focused on hiring people with strong conservative and evangelical Christian convictions, many of whom are also anti-LGBT+. Among his hires was Merritt Corrigan, the deputy White House liaison to USAID.
Corrigan was forced to resign on August 3 after an anti-LGBT+ tirade on Twitter in which she made overtly homophobic and transphobic statements.
On August 3 Corrigan made a series of comments on Twitter attacking USAID, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY). She also accused Politico reporter Daniel Lippman of being a stalker. Corrigan accused USAID of “rampant anti-Christian sentiment” and said she would hold a press conference on August 6 to discuss these issues further.
Engel chairs the House Foreign Relations Committee and Menendez is the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Corrigan accused them and other Democrats of having “engaged in a corrupt campaign to remove me from USAID… I will expose it on Thursday [August 6].”
Corrigan has faced mounting pressure to resign after her anti-LGBT+ history was revealed in June, as PGN reported here.
The role USAID plays on the world stage has become increasingly more pivotal during the coronavirus pandemic. LGBT+ people have been under intense threat during the pandemic with many countries using the pandemic to enforce anti-gay and gender-based “reforms” and restrictions. Poland and Russia also just enacted anti-LGBT+ referenda in July elections.
Corrigan opened her Twitter salvo succinctly with declaratively anti-LGBT+ statements. She wrote:
“For too long, I’ve remained silent as the media has attacked me for my Christian beliefs, which are shared by the majority of Americans
Let me clear:
Gay marriage isn’t marriage
Men aren’t women
US-funded Tunisian LGBT soap operas aren’t America First”
Her next tweet was equally direct: “The United States is losing ground in the battle to garner influence through humanitarian aid because we now refuse to help countries who don’t celebrate sexual deviancy[.] Meanwhile, Russia and China are happy to step in and eat our lunch.”
Corrigan then wrote: “I watched with horror this week as USAID distributed taxpayer funded documents claiming ‘we cannot tell someone’s sex or gender by looking at them’ and that not calling oneself ‘cis-gendered’ is a microagression[.] I’m not cis-anything. I’m a woman.”
USAID is the primary foreign assistance arm of the U.S. government. USAID’s mission is to “reflect the deeply held moral values and humanitarian instincts of the American people to help the less fortunate, and its work remains an important instrument for the conduct of foreign policy.”
The fiscal 2020 budget for USAID is $19.6 billion — nearly half the State Department budget of $41 billion.
USAID Acting Administrator John Barsa, to whom the letter from House Democrats was addressed, terminated Corrigan’s employment.
In a statement, a USAID spokesperson, Pooja Jhunjhunwala, said: “Effective 3:00 P.M., on August 3, 2020, Ms. Merritt Corrigan is no longer an employee at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). USAID takes any claim of discrimination seriously, and we will investigate any complaints of anti-Christian bias Ms. Corrigan has raised during her tenure at the Agency.”
David Stacy, Government Affairs Director at HRC, released a statement about Corrigan, noting, “Sadly, Merritt Corrigan is not unique in the Trump administration. She is the exact type of anti-LGBTQ zealot that Trump recruits and places in positions of power. Corrigan’s biased and harmful beliefs are not shared by the vast majority of Americans.”
A year ago Pompeo created the human rights advisory panel, called the Commission on Unalienable Rights in the State Department. He named a conservative law professor, Mary Ann Glendon, as its chairwoman. Glendon is a conservative Harvard Law School professor and former ambassador to the Vatican.
Pompeo stated the role of the commission is to “review and tighten the agency’s definition of human rights and ensure it is grounded in the nation’s founding principles” of religious freedom.
USAID deputy Chief of Staff Bethany Kozma, is another Pompeo hire and an anti-LGBT+ activist. She and Corrigan were both subjects of a Change.org petition calling for their removal due to their anti-LGBT+ stances.
In a July 22 letter, twenty House Democrats, led by Engel, called for Corrigan’s resignation, writing in part, “The statements made by Ms. Corrigan create a hostile work environment and are antithetical to the principles the agency, and indeed America, espouses. To date, there has been no public retraction of these comments from Ms. Corrigan, or demand by USAID, or the White House that she retract them, but rather a statement defending Ms. Corrigan as ‘committed to enacting the policies of President Donald J. Trump.’”
The letter also said, “We are left wondering how Ms. Corrigan is able to effectively serve an agency whose principles are so clearly antithetical to her own.”
HRC’s Stacy suggested a fix for Pompeo’s anti-LGBT+ hires, asserting, “Corrigan is a symptom of a larger problem, it’s time to hold the Trump-Pence administration accountable at the ballot box and elect a leader this November who supports the fundamental humanity of LGBTQ people and appoints people who share that basic decency.”
PGN attempted to contact Corrigan for comment; she did not respond.