Nov 15, 2007

To the OMB: A theological position against homosexuality is institutionalized bigotry.

The lead editorial in today’s LA Times rightly champions the recent US House bill outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation for employment while noting the uncertainty it faces. Not surpassing the veto-proof threshold in the House and with an uncertain future in the Senate where a threatened filibuster looms, the bill was also criticized on several points by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in what the Times called a “spurious” manner, in one case raising religious objections as an excuse to oppose the legislation.

What’s odd is that the bill even included a bill exempting religious schools, obviously a politically pragmatic concession to anti-gay religious conservatives.
The agency also nitpicked the language of an exemption for religious schools with a theological position against homosexuality.
With long-mounting evidence of the politicizing by conservatives of areas of government once deemed non-partisan, such as the Departments of Justice and Education, just to name two, as well as yesterday’s revelation of the State Dept. inspector general’s ties to the Blackwater security contractors firm accused for the wrongful deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians and his alleged attempts to politically shield the administration from the fall out, the argument that behind-the-scenes political machinations of those opposed to gay rights extends to the OMB seems sadly plausible.

Even though a Times front page article today declares that religious conservatives’ influence is shrinking in the GOP, at least on the level of party-affiliated preachers, their presence at top levels in government is undeniable. Their power to improperly steer policy befitting their cultural-political views is a reality evident in such instances as Dept. of Education chief Margaret Spelling’s order that a PBS children’s program positively depicting a gay character not be broadcast; and of course the Dept. of Justice’s politically motivated actions targeting district attorneys who weren’t doing the administration’s bidding under former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, which forced him to resign.

That the OMB has become infected with a similar strain of influence is all too familiarly disheartening.