Democratic senators grilled President Donald Trump’s pick to head NASA in a Wednesday hearing, pressing him on past remarks related to gay marriage and sexual orientation.
Trump stirred the hornet’s nest in nominating Oklahoma Republican Rep. Jim Bridenstine to head NASA, which is usually an uncontroversial appointment.
This time around, Democrats came out firing. Lawmakers grilled Bridenstine on a wide range of issues, but several lawmakers spent their time questioning his record on gay marriage and LGBTQ rights.
New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, spoke at length about sexual harassment issues in science professions before attacking Bridenstine for defending Trump in the wake of a leaked 2005 videotape making lewd remarks about women.
“Do you stand by your assessment… that grabbing women or talking about doing so is defensible?” New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, asked Bridenstine.
“It’s a big deal across the government as a whole,” Bridenstine said of sexual harassment, adding he’d “make sure everybody is educated and aware to what is sexual harassment” and how to keep it from happening.
Democrats also also criticized Bridenstine for voting against the Violence Against Women Act in 2013 and for supporting the Defense of Marriage Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in 2013.
Bridenstine came under fire for saying he believes “sex is intended for one man and one woman within the institution of marriage.” Democrats made their displeasure with these past stances known.
“How is it that NASA employees who are LGBTQ… how should they feel about your leadership when you take these positions,” Hassan asked in the hearing.
Bridenstine he believes “every human being has dignity and worth” and would treat everyone with respect. He added that he “will absolutely follow the law should I be confirmed” when responding to a question on gay marriage.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker joined in, asking Bridenstine “how you think a child will view a leader who thinks they are engaged in moral acts?”
“I believe that every person has dignity and worth and that every person has value,” Bridenstine responded. “The personal views I have on sexual morality are my personal views.”
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