EEOC champion of covering sexual orientation and gender identity under federal law is being blocked by 4 GOP Senators. #ConfirmChai
President Trump surprised a lot of people by announcing that he was nominating out lesbian Chai Feldblum to another full term as an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission member.
Commissioner Feldblum is the leading champion at the EEOC of covering sexual orientation and gender identity claims as sex discrimination under Title VII. Trump’s nomination was part of a negotiated package of three appointments (the other two are Republicans) who would be confirmed as a group by unanimous consent in the Senate.
But the negotiated package is running into trouble because some of the religious-right-wing groups are absolutely opposed to Chai, even though she has active support from the business community, which respects the work she has done on the Commission since being nominated by President Obama during his first term to fill an uncompleted term, and subsequently renominated for a full term, which expires this summer.
Four Republican Senators have put “holds” on the entire package because of opposition to Chai: Senators Lee, Rubio, Daines and Lankford.
They would block unanimous consent on the Senate floor, which would require voting on the individual nominees. Senate Democrats agreed to the package, but could stall confirmation of the individual Republican appointees. Under Title VII, no more than 3 of the 5 commissioners can be members of the same party, so one of Trump’s nominees has to be a Democrat.
Senator Lee insists Feldblum is a “radical” LGBT rights activist, and he would vote for a more moderate Democrat. At present the EEOC is operating with a bare quorum of 3 commissioners, of whom two are Democrats appointed by Obama and the one Republican is serving as interim chair, so technically the Democratic majority is still controlling EEOC decisions more than 500 days into the Trump Administration. And the EEOC is still litigating to advance LGBT coverage under Title VII, a situation that could change this summer if the confirmation roadblock is broken and the EEOC finally has a Republican majority after for the first time in a decade.
By Arthur S. Leonard. This article appeared in LGBT Bar NY’s LGBT Law Notes. Subscribe here!