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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 16, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 51
Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson no friend of LGBT community
Section One
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Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson no friend of LGBT community

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

There are many reasons to feel anxious about Donald Trump's pick for Secretary of State.

ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson is a friend of Vladimir Putin and business partner of many of Putin's cronies. He runs a giant oil conglomerate and almost certainly will backtrack on the Obama administration's commitment to global environmental agreements. He's an enemy of government health and safety regulations but a vocal supporter of free trade deals.

He also runs one of the most anti-LGBT companies in the country. ExxonMobil's record is so bad, in fact, that it received the only negative ratings ever issued by HRC's Corporate Equality Index. His company earned a minus-25 rating from HRC in 2012 and 2013.

Tillerson became CEO of ExxonMobil in 2006 after a quarter century as an employee of the firm. In 2014, the company's shareholders - which included Tillerson - voted against offering protections to LGBT workers for the 17th time.

To be fair, the company's anti-LGBT record goes back years before Tillerson took the helm, although he has been employed there since 1975.

In 1999 Exxon took over Mobil Oil and rescinded Mobil's domestic partner benefits for Lesbian and Gay employees. At the time, Tillerson was Exxon's Vice President of Exxon Ventures, the oil giant's capital investment arm. After the merger, Tillerson steady climbed the corporate ladder, becoming president and director of ExxonMobil in 2004 and CEO in 2006.

In 2009, ExxonMobil, now led by Tillerson, took over XTO Energy. Just as it did when it acquired Mobil, it canceled same-sex domestic partner benefits for XTO employees.

In fact, ExxonMobil did not add sexual orientation and gender identity to its nondiscrimination policies until last year, following President Obama's executive order requiring federal contractors to offer such protections.

HRC president Chad Griffin released a statement calling on the Senate to ask tough questions of Tillerson when it considers his nomination.

'ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson's nomination raises critical questions as to how a Trump administration plans to protect LGBTQ employees and contractors affiliated with the State Department, and ultimately whether it will continue American efforts to advance equality through US foreign policy,' Griffin said.

'Will Trump and Tillerson take on brutal dictators like Putin, who have inspired attacks against LGBTQ people? Will they assist LGBTQ Muslim refugees fleeing death from ISIS? For millions of people around the globe, their position on these and other issues are a matter of life and death. These are among the questions that senators - Democrats and Republicans alike - must ask.'

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