Pompeo’s ‘Natural Law’ Commission Gives Anti-LGBTQ Activists ‘Extraordinary Opening,’ Says Brian Brown

Anti-LGBTQ-equality activist Brian Brown at December 2016 press conference launching the International Organization for the Family.

Anti-LGBTQ-equality activist Brian Brown declared in a message to supporters on Thursday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s new “Commission on Unalienable Rights” provides Brown’s International Organization for the Family with “an extraordinary opening to push for clear and consistent recognition of the natural family” and “gives us a forum to challenge American foreign policy that has in the past advanced the extreme agenda of the left that has been cloaked in the language of so-called human rights.”

Pompeo’s commission, which was reportedly created without input from the State Department’s existing human rights infrastructure, will bring a “natural law” lens to a reexamination of U.S. human rights policy. As New Ways Ministry’s Bob Shine has noted, “Natural law theory has been used for a long time by Catholic Church leaders and theologians who reject LGBT people’s identities and their relationships.” Natural law theory has various strains, but as applied to sexuality and gender, it essentially argues that people whose sexual expression or gender identity is not “natural,” or who have non-procreative sex, are defying the “natural law” of God.

While Pompeo has tried to downplay the policy impact of the commission, which is dominated by social conservatives, Brown’s enthusiasm makes it clear that Religious Right believes the commission’s work is likely to be used to provide intellectual justification for further reversing U.S. advocacy for the rights of LGBTQ people and women as elements of U.S. foreign policy.

None of that is surprising, given that the commission is reportedly the brainchild of Robert George, a founder of the National Organization for Marriage and other anti-LGBTQ groups, and an intellectual force behind the anti-equality movement. George is not an official member of the commission, but has professional associations with many of the commission’s members, including chair Mary Ann Glendon, an anti-abortion-rights activist who has dismissed U.S. and European advocacy for LGBTQ human rights globally as “neocolonialism.”