President Trump’s pick to head NASA was confirmed on Thursday in the U.S. Senate despite opposition from lawmakers and LGBTQ groups who opposed him on the basis of his anti-LGBTQ record.
Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), who has served as a three-term member of Congress representing Oklahoma’s 1st congressional district in the U.S. House, was confirmed as administrator of the National Aeronautics & Space Administration by a party-line vote of 50-49.
Nominated by Trump to become head of NASA in September, Bridenstine’s nomination languished in the Senate for seven months. In addition to opposition over his anti-LGBTQ views, lawmaker cited as concerns Bridenstine’s denial of climate change and potentially placing him in charge of a U.S. agency that has monitored its impact.
A three-term member of Congress, Bridenstine has amassed an anti-LGBTQ record based on his votes in Congress. In the last Congress, the Human Rights Campaign awarded him a score of “0” based on his voting record. Bridenstine earned a “30” out of 100 in the 112th Congress for rejecting an amendment that would have taken out LGBTQ protections in reauthorization for the Violence Against Women Act (although he ended up voting against the larger LGBTQ-inclusive bill).
In 2013, when the Boy Scouts of America lifted its ban on gay youths, Bridenstine delivered a speech on the House floor in opposition to the change, suggesting LGBTQ people are immoral.
“The left’s agenda is not about tolerance, and it’s not about diversity of thought,” Bridenstine said in 2013. “It’s about presenting a worldview of relativism, where there is no right and wrong, then using the full force of the government to silence opposition and reshape organizations like the Boy Scouts into instruments for social change.”
An opponent of same-sex marriage, Bridenstine has co-sponsored legislation against it and called the U.S. Supreme Court decision against the anti-gay 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.”
Bridenstine also called Obama-era guidance requiring schools to allow transgender kids to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity “lawless federal bullying.” The Trump administration would later rescind the guidance.
Zeke Stokes, vice president of programs at GLAAD, decried the Senate confirmation of Bridenstine in a statement as “yet another attack by this administration on LGBTQ people.”
“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,” Stokes said. “Mid-term elections are around the corner, and our community has a very good memory.”
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