UPDATE (11/14/2017): Penny Nance has withdrawn her name from consideration for ambassador-at-large for global women's issues.
In a move that solidifies concerns that President Trump is intent on undermining women’s and LGBT rights around the globe, he is expected to nominate Penny Nance to be his ambassador-at-large for global women's issues. This is a State Department job meant to ensure that U.S. foreign policy incorporates and promotes women’s rights, but Nance has a long record of vocally promoting anti-woman and anti-LGBT policies — a record that senators must assess and scrutinize when considering her nomination.
The Global Women’s Issues Ambassador role is supposed to represent and advance women’s rights, issues, and interests worldwide. Nance’s record shows that instead, she could use the position to advance her own ideological agenda, which seeks to abolish reproductive freedoms and undermine the rights of queer and trans women.
While the ACLU neither supports nor opposes executive branch nominees, we can and do raise concerns about a nominee’s background. In Nance’s case, there is significant reason for concern. If formally nominated, senators must vigorously question her about her extreme hostility to women’s rights, reproductive freedom, and LGBT equality.
Nance currently heads Concerned Women for America, a group notorious for its attacks on feminism and LGBT equality, and she has been a vocal supporter of Trump’s agenda. In fact, Nance stood behind the president as he signed H.J. Res 43, which made it more difficult for women to access health care providers like Planned Parenthood.
She’s also a vocal opponent of abortion rights. Nance has suggested that legal abortion in America is worse than the Holocaust and has said that rape survivors must carry their pregnancy to term.
Unsurprisingly, Nance has denounced Planned Parenthood, comparing the women’s care provider to the mafia, and called for Trump’s Justice Department to target it for investigation. In the recent struggle to secure Jane Doe’s right to obtain an abortion, she called on the Trump administration to continue to block Jane Doe from exercising that right and falsely claimed that taxpayers would be covering her abortion.
She has also strongly criticized the Violence Against Women Act, the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage rule, the elimination of the ban on women serving in combat arms units as well as a policy change that expanded access to Plan B.
Nance’s record on LGBT issues is equally troubling. Nance has spoken out against legal protections for transgender youth, attacked the Girl Scouts for accepting trans members and the Boy Scouts for accepting gay members, and decried attempts by the “homosexual lobby” to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
In her fight against marriage equality, Nance compared same-sex marriages to “counterfeit money.” She warned that equal treatment for same-sex couples would eviscerate religious freedom, and “in losing religious freedom, we lose America.” Nance has even said that homeless shelters that receive federal taxpayer dollars should be allowed to refuse shelter to LGBT people.
In 2015, Nance signed and sent a letter denouncing “the promotion of homosexuality” and urged parents to keep their children home from school if other students are participating in “The Day of Silence,” a youth campaign to oppose anti-LGBT bullying. Nance said that the Day of Silence is an effort by “LGBTQ activists” to “infiltrate schools” and “get to your children.”
Nance’s expected nomination raises deep concerns about the Trump administration’s continued hostility to women’s and LGBT equality in America and abroad. When weighing Nance’s confirmation, senators must think long and hard about whether such an outspoken opponent of women’s and LGBT rights could really be qualified to further those rights in U.S. foreign policy.
Correction: Nov.8, 2017
An earlier version of this article incorrectly described Penny Nance's status. She is expected to be nominated, but is not yet a nominee.