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Bush appoints allegedly antigay judicial nominee to staff

Bush appoints allegedly antigay judicial nominee to staff

President Bush is bringing into the top ranks of his White House staff another official he has been unsuccessful in appointing to a federal appeals court. Bush has chosen Claude Allen, the Department of Health and Human Services' number 2 official, to be his domestic policy adviser, responsible for shaping all White House proposals and decisions on domestic issues, press secretary Scott McClellan said Wednesday. Bush nominated Allen to a federal appeals court, the 4th circuit based in Richmond, Va., in April 2003 and again a year ago, but Allen never received a vote in the Senate. During his confirmation hearing, Allen was questioned about his use of the word "queer" when he was a press aide to Republican U.S. senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina in 1984. Allen said he didn't intend it as a slur against gay people. Bush's nomination of Allen, the former health secretary in Virginia and a lawyer in the Virginia attorney general's office, also upset Maryland's two senators because the judgeship is typically held by a Marylander. Democrats blocked with filibusters 10 of Bush's 34 appeals court nominees, including Allen. Allen also is a strong supporter of Bush's push for abstinence-only sex education for U.S. youths. As HHS deputy secretary, Allen supported doubling federal spending on abstinence-only programs and has said encouraging teenagers to abstain from sex is the best way to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. At the closing of the 2003 National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta, Allen called for abstinence to be the "key pillar" in U.S. HIV prevention programs. "Encouraging young people and young adults to abstain is the only appropriate initial strategy," Allen said. "Delaying sexual debut is the first message they should hear." Bush praised Allen's work at HHS in a White House press release. Allen has helped "improve the health and welfare of all Americans," Bush said. "I look forward to his continued service in this new role."

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