Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee blocked the reappointment of a lesbian to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, months after alleging Chai Feldblum’s views on marriage were “radical.”
Feldblum, the first out appointee ever to serve on the EEOC board, won confirmation in 2010 in a lame duck session days before Lee first took office. At the time, right-wing groups like the Traditional Values Coalition called the Obama nominee a “radical” for believing LGBTQ Americans should be protected from workforce discrimination and for saying the Supreme Court should not have decided the Boy Scouts of America can discriminate against gay scouts.
Of course, all that happened in the ancient era of the early 2010s. Since then, marriage equality became the law of the land and the Boy Scouts welcomed transgender scouts. But Mike Lee still dismissed Feldblum as an extremist and appears willing to shut down enforcement of the Civil Rights Act indefinitely.
In February, Lee wrote in a lengthy blog post on his Senate web page that Feldblum represents a “threat to marriage.” There, he points to statements in the press he says prove Feldblum wants to destroy marriage as an institution altogether.
“If Feldblum were a typical Democrat, it might make sense to let her nomination proceed through the Senate along with her two Republican colleagues,” Lee wrote. “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.”
That radical view? He pointed to a Washington Blade article where Feldblum said the law shouldn’t treat marriage as a “normatively good institution” and said government should recognize “diverse kinds” of partnerships.
While only two Republicans voted to confirm Feldblum in 2010, she faced no problems with reappointment in 2013. President Donald Trump reappointed Feldblum to the post, but staying on the EEOC board requires the consent of the Senate.
This year, Lee is acting unilaterally to block her nomination against the desires of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, according to NBC News.
The Senate failed to approve her through unanimous consent based on Lee’s objection alone, and now she must go through a lengthier confirmation process, which means the EEOC will not have a quorum and cannot meet until the confirmation is complete.