.- Chai R. Feldblum, a nominee for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), has withdrawn her support for a radical manifesto that endorsed polygamous households and argued traditional marriage should not be privileged âabove all others.â She said she did not agree with parts of the âoverly broadâ statement.
In September CNA reported that Feldblum, a Georgetown University Law Center Professor, was listed as a signatory to the July 26, 2006 manifesto âBeyond Same-Sex Marriage: A New Strategic Vision for All Our Families & Relationships.â
According to Politicoâs Ben Smith, in an early November letter to the statementâs organizers Feldblum asked that her name be removed.
âI signed this document because it supports societal recognition of relationships between LGBT couples. But the statement was overly broad and there are parts of it with which I do not agree. Because the text of the statement does not reflect my views, I must ask you to remove my name,â she said.
Smith said that the Beyond Marriage manifesto came from a part of the homosexual movement which is âuncomfortable with what it views as the conservative impulse to bring same-sex couples into traditional relationshipsâ¦ as opposed to the more radical goal of disestablishing marriage as a pillar of society.â
The manifestoâs signatories said they proposed a ânew visionâ for governmental and private recognition of âdiverse kindsâ of partnerships, households and families. They said they hoped to move âbeyond the narrow confines of marriage politicsâ in the U.S., arguing that marriage should not be âlegally and economically privileged above all others.â
Describing various kinds of households as no less socially, economically, and spiritually worthy than other relationships, the Beyond Marriage manifesto listed âcommitted, loving households in which there is more than one conjugal partner.â
It said same-sex âmarriageâ should be âjust one option on a menu of choices.â Naming as one of its principles freedom from a ânarrow definition of our sexual lives and gender choices, identities, and expression,â it charged that the political Right enforces ânarrow, heterosexist definitions of marriage.â
Feldblumâs initial approval of the document was a topic at her confirmation hearing at the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on Thursday.
Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, asked her why she had signed the document.
âIn all those years I worked with you, I didnât know you supported polygamy,â Harkin said jokingly, according to the blog of Legal Times.
Feldblum replied that she does not believe in polygamy and was sorry to have signed the document, an act she called a âmistake.â
The day before her hearing, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights charged that Feldblumâs disavowal of the Beyond Marriage manifesto was âa farce.â
âShe is running scared: she knew what she was signing and waited until the eleventh hour to bolt. Only a fool would be fooled by this patently insincere move,â Donohue said in a Wednesday statement.
He described the Beyond Same-Sex Marriage document as âthe most radical, irresponsible assault on marriage and the family ever written.â
Andy Blom, Executive Director of American Principles in Action, has charged that Feldblum would pursue an âextremist agendaâ at the EEOC that would lead to the âtargeted government harassment of religious institutions.â
Opponents of Feldblumâs nomination have also raised concerns about her stance on religious freedom. In 2006 she told writer Maggie Gallagher:
âThere can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases the sexual liberty should win because that's the only way that the dignity of gay people can be affirmed in any realistic manner.â
As an EEOC commissioner, Feldblum would enforce federal laws against discrimination.
The EEOC recently ruled that Belmont Abbey College, a Catholic institution, violated anti-discrimination law by removing contraceptive coverage âbecause only females take oral prescription contraceptives.â The ruling, which the college is contesting, overturned a prior EEOC finding that the collegeâs action was not discriminatory.