U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine – Photo: U.S. Congress.
On Thursday, the U.S. Senate narrowly confirmed Oklahoma Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine to head NASA, even though LGBTQ advocates and others had expressed trepidation over the nomination.
Bridenstine’s nomination was approved on a party-line 50-49 vote. When he was first nominated, he was flagged by equality advocates because of his anti-LGBTQ voting record in Congress.
Critics of Bridenstine’s included U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who wrote a letter to her colleagues on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation last October. In the letter, Murray criticized the congressman for his views on social issues and his denial of climate change — which Murray said raised questions about whether he understands basic scientific concepts, something essential for any NASA chief.
Some of Bridenstine’s greatest anti-LGBTQ actions and statements have included his claim that President Obama’s nondiscrimination guidance to school administrators, which advised them to treat transgender students according to their gender identity, was an aggressive attempt “to fundamentally transform America and a form of “lawless federal bullying.”
Bridenstine was also a fierce opponent of marriage equality, sponsoring several pieces of legislation seeking to ban same-sex marriage and advocating that state lawmakers refuse to recognize same-sex couples. He also called the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision repealing a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act “a disappointment not only because it is contrary to millennia of human experience, but also because it is clearly contrary to the choice of the people as expressed in a constitutionally valid process.”
Finally, Bridenstine called for the impeachment of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder because of his refusal to defend the Defense of Marriage Act when it was challenged in court. He also lashed out at “intolerant Left bullies” who argued that gay Scouts and leaders should be allowed in the Boy Scouts of America, accusing them of trying to “silence opposition and reshape organizations like the Boy Scouts into instruments for social change.”
The media advocacy organization GLAAD condemned Republicans’ decision to confirm the congressman.
“President Trump’s nod to Jim Bridenstine as NASA’s next leader is yet another attack by this administration on LGBTQ people,” Zeke Stokes, the vice president of programs at GLAAD, said in a statement. “It’s time for the Senate to take a hard look at the nominations they are confirming and the potential ramifications these anti-LGBTQ politicians stand to have on the LGBTQ employees in their agencies and within our country as a whole.
“Midterm elections are around the corner,” Stokes added, “and our community has a very good memory.”