Obama's EEOC Nominee Draws Fire for Gay Rights Activism

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President Obama's controversial nominee for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Chai Feldblum, has not been shy about her plans to fight for gay rights -- a position that is now is drawing sharp criticism.

"She's been an aggressive advocate for some of the most radical views that have ever been expressed," said Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America.

Yet the Senate health Committee on Thursday approved Feldblum for the EEOC, sending her nomination to the full Senate for a vote.

In 2004, Feldblum outlined her strategy for strengthening gay rights.

"There is a war that needs to be fought and it's not a war overseas where we're killing people in the name of liberating them," she said. "It is a war right here at home where we need to convince people that morality demands full equality for gay people.

But during the Senate committee hearing, Feldblum backed away from a document she signed in 2006 advocating government recognition of various kinds of sexual relationships, including those with multiple partners and unorthodox situations.

She now calls it a mistake.

Feldblum's supporters say critics are focusing too much on her advocacy and not enough on her work drafting landmark disability and non-discrimination legislation.

"She has spent her career fashioning solutions to thorny issues and she really has a tremendous track record of achievement and accomplishment," said Winnie Stachelberg, the senior vice president for external affairs at the liberal Center for American Progress.

Although Feldblum has been endorsed by many religious groups and worked for years as a pro bono attorney for Catholic Charities, it is religious employers who worry most about her potential impact, pointing to her writings in the Brooklyn Law Review in 2006.

"As a general matter, once a religious person or institution enters the stream of commerce ... I believe the enterprise must adhere to a norm of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity," she wrote.

That same year, she said, "There can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases the sexual liberty should win."

When asked about the issue before the Senate health committee just weeks ago, Feldblum appeared to soften her position.

"I also have a deep respect for and understanding of religious practice, and a deep-seated tolerance for religious difference," she said.

But Wright remains unconvinced.

"What we're seeing with Feldblum is a confirmation conversion," she said.