Trump Appointee With History of Anti-L.G.B.T.Q. Remarks Leaves Aid Agency


WASHINGTON — A Trump administration appointee whose anti-L.G.B.T.Q. comments had spurred calls for her removal has left the United States Agency for International Development, an agency spokeswoman said on Monday.

The appointee, Merritt Corrigan, had drawn scrutiny shortly after becoming the agency’s deputy White House liaison this year because of her previous statements that America is in the grip of a “homo-empire” pushing a “tyrannical LGBT agenda.” She had also argued that “America has no moral imperative to accept immigrants” and called for women to take up traditional roles of wife, mother and homemaker.

Ms. Corrigan said on Twitter on Monday that she had been targeted by Democrats on Capitol Hill and the news media because of her Christian faith.

“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,” she said, adding that “gay marriage isn’t marriage” and “men aren’t women.”

Sixty-seven percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, according to a Gallup poll conducted in May.

In July, 20 House Democrats, led by Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, wrote a letter to the aid agency’s acting administrator, John Barsa, asking for Ms. Corrigan’s removal.

“Her record of public remarks, including disparaging L.G.B.T.Q. people and those who express support for them, women in positions of leadership and immigrants, is appalling, and has no place in a federal agency,” the lawmakers wrote. “The statements made by Ms. Corrigan create a hostile work environment and are antithetical to the principles the agency, and indeed America, espouses.”

U.S.A.I.D. provides economic and humanitarian aid to developing countries around the world, investing in projects such as ones that help local entrepreneurs or mitigate the spread of disease.

Ms. Corrigan, who said that Mr. Engel and other Democratic lawmakers had “engaged in a corrupt campaign” to oust her, said she would divulge full details of her removal on Thursday and “discuss the rampant anti-Christian sentiment at USAID.” She could not immediately be reached for comment.

Pooja Jhunjhunwala, a U.S.A.I.D. spokeswoman, said that Ms. Corrigan was no longer an employee of the agency as of 3 p.m. Monday and that her claims of discrimination would be investigated.

“U.S.A.I.D. 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,” she said.

Mr. Engel said in a statement that Mr. Barsa “called to inform me of Ms. Corrigan’s departure and express his mortification at her comments and wild accusations against myself and other members of Congress.”

Ms. Corrigan’s exit, first reported by Politico, comes amid intense scrutiny over the agency’s hiring or promoting of a string of political appointees with histories of anti-L.G.B.T.Q., misogynistic and anti-Islamic statements.

The agency’s new deputy chief of staff, Bethany Kozma, has spoken out against what she called President Barack Obama’s “transgender agenda.” She also praised the Trump administration’s decision to rescind Obama-era guidance that transgender students should be allowed to use their preferred names, pronouns and bathrooms in public schools.

Mark Kevin Lloyd, the agency’s new religious freedom adviser, has made anti-Muslim statements on social media, calling Islam a “barbaric cult.”

Peter Marocco, a former Defense Department staff member with a history of workplace misconduct allegations, was tapped to lead the agency’s conflict bureau.

In recent weeks, Tera Dahl, a former Breitbart News writer who has made statements against Islam, joined the agency as a senior adviser, along with Patrina Mosley, an anti-abortion activist who accused the United Nations of using the coronavirus pandemic to promote abortions.

Mr. Barsa has defended the hiring of Ms. Corrigan, Ms. Kozma and Mr. Lloyd. “Political appointees are appointed at the discretion of the White House to carry out the president’s foreign policy agenda at U.S.A.I.D.,” he said in a news release in June, calling the backlash against the three “unwarranted and malicious.”

Current and former U.S.A.I.D. staff members have noted their fear that incoming appointees will steer agency programming in a more contentious direction, potentially directing funding toward projects that benefit certain faiths. Officials in Vice President Mike Pence’s office pressured the agency’s staff in 2018 to reroute Middle East program funding to religious minorities, in particular Christian organizations.

Mr. Barsa has also drawn criticism. Lawmakers accused him of “pursuing a political agenda” after he wrote a letter to the United Nations asking that abortion services no longer be considered an essential service in the organization’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic.


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