President Donald Trump has re-nominated an LGBT activist to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), to the confusion and horror of some members of his own party. The nominee, Chai Feldblum, is an Obama-appointee with a track record of bashing Christians for their stance on marriage, and hostility towards religious liberty.
The conservative outrage against Feldblum is based on statements she has made in the past, like this one: “I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win… Sexual liberty should win in most cases. There can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases the sexual liberty should win because that’s the only way that the dignity of gay people can be affirmed in any realistic manner”
Feldblum has also said that she views the conflict between religious Americans and the LGBT community as “a zero-sum game: a gain for one side necessarily entails a corresponding loss for the other side.”
The EEOC has five members, all appointed by the president. According to its government website, the EEOC “is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.”
The nomination, which occurred in early December, is still waiting for Senate confirmation. If confirmed, Feldblum would be appointed to a five year term which would end in 2023. No more than three of the five commission members are legally allowed to belong to the same party.
Some conservatives have understandably voiced their disapproval of this nominee. The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro wrote that it’s “particularly inexcusable for President Trump and a Republican Congress to reauthorize her presence there [at the EEOC].” The Family Research Council’s Peter Sprigg wrote that “Feldblum’s record, both before and after her appointment to the EEOC, is an extreme one, and the Trump administration could surely have found a less radical choice to occupy a Democratic seat.” Daniel Horowitz at the Conservative Review called Feldblum “Trump’s worst nomination so far.”
“If Feldblum were a typical Democrat, it might make sense to let her nomination proceed through the Senate along with her two Republican colleagues,” conservative Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) said. “But Feldblum is no typical Democrat. Her radical views on marriage and the appropriate use of government power place her far outside even the liberal mainstream.”
Roger Clegg from the Center for Equal Opportunity wrote in the National Review that “it is inexplicable that Trump should renominate her as one of the five members of the closely divided U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a very powerful agency and one that, alas, operates generally outside the usual chain-of-command in the executive branch.”
Feldblum has said that she thinks there is no reason for religious beliefs to ever provide an exception to LGBT anti-discrimination cases. “I believe granting liberty to gay people advances a compelling government interest, that such an interest cannot be adequately advanced if ‘pockets of resistance’ to a societal statement of equality are permitted to flourish, and hence that a law that permits no individual exceptions based on religious beliefs will be the least restrictive means of achieving the goal of liberty for gay people.”
In October of 2017, Bloomberg Businessweek called Feldblum “Washington’s strongest champion for the idea that antigay and antitrans biases constitute discrimination “because of sex,” something Congress banned in the workplace in 1964.”
Feldblum’s original confirmation by President Obama was so controversial that Obama eventually appointed her as a “recess appointment,” thus bypassing the need for Congressional approval. In 2013, only two Republican senators voted to confirm her: Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).