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Trump keeps Obama's LGBT envoy in State Department

(YouTube/WithTheEconomist)Randy Berry appears in a screen capture of a video from WithTheEconomist.

A State Department spokesperson announced on Monday that President Donald Trump's administration has decided to retain Randy Berry as the Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI persons.

Berry, an openly gay career Foreign Service officer, was given the position by the Obama administration in 2015.

The position was created in 2014 as part of the efforts to protect gay people abroad from violence and death, according to Religion News Service. Conservative groups, however, said that the office is an attempt to "entrench the LGBTI agenda" into the U.S. government.

The Family Research Council (FRC) has considered it a priority to remove such "activists" and has called on the State Department to get rid of employees who promote an "anti-family, anti-life agenda."

FRC President Tony Perkins said that the news about retaining Berry was "a disappointing development." He stated that the administration should focus on protecting Christians against persecution and genocide rather than promoting gay rights.

"Keeping Berry only signals to the world that the extreme agenda of the Obama years is still deeply entrenched in the State Department," he said.

Ross Murray, the director of programs at pro-LGBT group GLAAD, said that he was surprised by the decision to keep Berry as the LGBT envoy.

"I don't think I can applaud it until I see what his mandate becomes in this administration. But Berry has been really effective in that job," he said.

The retention of Berry came after Caribbean religious leaders wrote a letter to Trump last month urging him to stop the U.S. efforts to export the LGBT agenda.

The nearly 300 Caribbean ministers and church leaders who signed the Jan. 31 letter claimed that the Obama administration's State Department had used coercive measures to normalize same-sex marriage and elevate LGBT issues at the expense of human rights.

The ministers cited concerns about the influence of the State Department's LGBT special envoy and pointed to last year's Department of Education directive which required public schools to make special accommodations for transgender students or risk losing federal funding.

"Please understand that this same kind of coercion is being used against our countries to force us to fall in line with the entire same-sex agenda," the pastors wrote, according to World. "In this letter, there is no room to enumerate the various ways in which this is happening," they added.

The letter was signed by pastors from the Bahamas, Guyana, St. Maarten, St. Vincent, and Trinidad and Tobago.

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