WASHINGTON (BP)–The U.S. Senate confirmed open lesbian Chai Feldblum to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before the close of its lame duck session.
Senators approved Feldblum and three other nominees to the panel by unanimous consent Dec. 22, the day the chamber adjourned. She is the first “openly LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] person” to serve on the EEOC, according to the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest homosexual organization.
A former law professor at Georgetown University in Washington, Feldblum is known in the public policy debate over homosexuality for her work on legislation to establish workplace protections based on “sexual orientation” and her opinion that “sexual liberty” rights should normally trump religious liberty rights.
President Obama nominated Feldblum to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in September 2009, but a hold was placed on her nomination by at least one senator. Obama gave her a recess appointment in March 2010, and she began serving as a commissioner the next month. Her newly approved full term on the commission will conclude in July 2013.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws that bar employment discrimination.
Feldblum has written in recent years on the legal clash between homosexuality and religious expression. “I am convinced society should come down on the side of protecting the liberty of LGBT people,” she has written. “Protecting one group’s identity liberty, may, at times, require that we burden others’ belief liberty.”
Some pro-family organizations spoke out against her nomination to the EEOC. Her selection for the commission “represents one of the most serious threats to religious freedom we have seen in a long time,” wrote Mario Diaz, Concerned Women for America’s policy director for legal issues.
The other nominees confirmed by the Senate were Jacqueline Berrien as chair of the EEOC, Victoria Lipnic as commissioner and David Lopez as general counsel. Along with Feldblum, all three have been serving since April under recess appointments.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.