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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Hearing on gay EEOC nominee strangely quiet
by Lisa Keen, Keen News Service
2009-11-25

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There were expectations that Republicans would challenge openly gay EEOC nominee Chai Feldblum Thursday over some of her writings. Those writings included how non-discrimination laws might sometimes trump bias based on religious beliefs. And then there was the 2006 statement she signed onto that expressed support for polygamy. But nothing came from Republicans.

Instead, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, quizzed Feldblum about the polygamy statement.

"Something has come to our attention here —a petition," said Harkin, "…that you signed onto" that expresses support for "committed loving households in which there are more than one conjugal partner."

"That says polygamy to me," said Harkin, noting that it is illegal in the United States and that, in the 20-plus years he has worked with her, he never knew she supported polygamy.

"I do not support polygamy," said Feldblum. I am sorry I signed that document and I have asked that my name be removed."

The statement, "Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: A New Strategic Vision for All Our Families & Relationships," ( which can be read at beyondmarriage.org ) was developed in 2006 by a group of 20 LGBT activists who met to discuss "marriage and family politics" in the United States. Feldblum was not one of those participants but she did sign onto the statement, along with such political notables as author-journalist Barbara Ehrenriech, gay scholar John D'Emilio, feminist publisher Gloria Steinem, Catholic feminist theologian Mary E. Hunt and gay author Armistead Maupin.

As of Thursday morning, Feldblum's name was still listed as a signatory.

Harkin suggested that he and Feldblum, like many people in public life, often have petitions put in front of them with requests —from friends and colleagues—to sign on. Feldblum said that was the case with this statement. She said while she agreed with the "general thrust" of the overall statement—"about support for the range of caregiving relationships"—the full statement "goes beyond what I would have said and it was mistake to sign it."

And that was the end of any expression of concern about Feldblum's nomination.

A number of conservative organizations had signaled in the days leading up to the hearing that they were opposed to Feldblum's nomination. The pro-life news Web site lifenews.com characterized Feldblum as having worked for "the pro-abortion Human Rights Campaign Fund" as well as having clerked for Justice Harry Blackmun, "the infamous judge who handed down the Roe v. Wade decision that has allowed more than 51 million abortions." The Traditional Values Coalition called Feldblum "yet another radical Obama nominee," saying she would "use her power to strip nearly all First Amendment rights of freedom of expression/free exercise of religion from businesses."

Members of the Senate have 10 days to submit any additional information or questions.

©2009 Keen News Service


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