Morgen on September 15, 2009 at 10:53 am
In their ongoing quest to placate every liberal constituency, the White House yesterday nominated long-time gay rights activist, and Georgetown law professor Chai Feldblum for a post as Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Given that this is an openly Christian blog, you may be expecting what follows to be a diatribe against the “evils” of homosexuality and the ongoing liberal attack against traditional family values. But you’d be wrong.
While my personal beliefs are mostly in line with traditional Christian views on this issue, I also believe that a free and civil society has an obligation to oppose unnecessary and harmful forms of discrimination on the basis of personal life-style choices. From my initial review of Professor Feldblum’s record, she appears to be an open and principled advocate for this cause. And since I believe that employment-related discrimination is one of the legitimate areas of concern for gay rights advocates, I personally don’t have a problem with her nomination to this post.
However, I will note that after years of effort, and even with a Democratic majority in place since 2006, Congress still has not enacted legislation which prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation at a national level. I’m sure the expectation of gay rights advocates is that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act will be pushed through soon, with President Obama now in the White House. But I am not so sure this is the case given that I’ve heard no mention of this being on the near-term legislative agenda. And with the mid-term elections next year, and the Blue Dog uprising in the House over the President’s liberal agenda, I can easily see this being put off until 2011 or beyond. My point is that as of now there is no federal/EEOC interest in preventing workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. And so I think there may be some legitimate opposition to Feldblum’s nomination based on her long record of advocacy (and obvious bias) when it comes to this issue.
And of course the real controversy, and deep divisions, over gay rights stem from where the granting or acknowledgment of such rights conflict with deeply held religious beliefs of others. Or more precisely, where enforcement of these rights would necessitate actions on the part of others which are incongruent with their beliefs. An example being a church forced to employ an openly gay staff member. Or a religiously-affiliated adoption agency required to facilitate adoptions by same-sex couples.
To her credit, Feldblum seems to have taken a much more thoughtful stance on this issue than most gay rights advocates. If this is a topic which interests you, I highly recommend this somewhat lengthy treatise by Feldblum on “Same Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty“.
Where I ultimately part ways with Feldblum, and stridently so, is with her final determination that in only a very few cases could she envision that the right to religious belief/expression would trump the requirement by the state to enforce “equality for all”. And the fact that she has to make a couple of very creative leaps in the interpretation of the Constitution to get there does not help her case in my opinion.
It really should come as no surprise that someone with the liberal voting record of President Obama would nominate someone who holds the beliefs that Feldblum does to an EEOC post. But unfortunately I expect there may be more controversy over this nomination than is warranted. In fact, given that this is a significant wedge issue for independent voters in considering Republican candidates, and even within the Republican party itself, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was part of the political calculus in nominating Feldblum to this post.