October 26, 2017 at 10:06 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
Sen. Murray comes out against Trump’s anti-LGBT pick for NASA

Patty Murray, Washington, Democratic Party, United States Senate, U.S. Congress, gay news, Washington Blade

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) has come out against Trump anti-NASA pick. (Photo public domain)

The top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee has come out against President Trump’s pick to head NASA over the nominee’s anti-LGBT views, becoming the first U.S. senator to oppose the selection.

In a letter dated Oct. 26 to Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) urges senators “to vote against” the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) as administrator of the National Aeronautics & Space Administration.

“Rep. Bridenstine’s background makes him an extremely concerning choice to lead the critical agency and its 19,000 diverse employees,” Murray said. “Rep. Bridenstine’s denial of climate science and consistent opposition to equal rights for women, immigrants and gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) individuals should disqualify him from consideration.”

Other senators have voiced concerns over the Bridenstine nomination, but no senator until now has voiced outright opposition and urged fellow senators to vote “no.”

A three-term member of Congress, Bridenstine has amassed an anti-LGBT record based on his votes in Congress and elsewhere. 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 taken out LGBT protections in reauthorization for the Violence Against Women Act (although he ended up voting against the larger LGBT-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 LGBT 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.”

Murray cites Bridenstine’s anti-LGBT views in her letter as wells comments he made against climate change and Islam and remarks downplaying the 2005 Access Hollywood video in Trump admitted to grabbing women by the genitals.

“Since its creation, NASA has played a singular role in American life,” Murray said. “The agency has inspired countless young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math and has stirred curiosity in billions of individuals across the world. Rep. Bridenstine’s denial of fundamental scientific facts and long record of bigoted and hateful statements run counter to this legacy.”

A Nelson spokesperson said in response to the Murray letter the Florida Democrat shares concerns about Trump’s NASA pick.

“Sen. Nelson has made it clear he believes the head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician,” the Nelson spokesperson said. “It’s hard to see how Rep. Bridenstine’s qualifications and his divisive and hurtful stances would fit that bill.”

Thune’s office didn’t immediately respond to the Blade’s request to comment on the Murray letter.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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