Religious right livid over transgender appointee

RELIGIOUS RIGHT LIVID OVER TRANSGENDER APPOINTEE…. In something of a milestone, President Obama has named Amanda Simpson to be a senior technical advisor to the Commerce Department. That wouldn’t be especially noteworthy were it not for the fact that Simpson is one of the first-ever transgender presidential appointees to the federal government, and is a member of the National Center for Transgender Equality’s board of directors.

As far as I can tell, the news was largely ignored by Republicans, but Focus on the Family issued a report on this to its membership yesterday. The religious right isn’t exactly pleased.

“Is there going to be a transgender quota now in the Obama administration?” asked Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth. “How far does this politics of gay and transgender activism go? Clearly this is an administration that is pandering to the gay lobby.” […]

“We should consider what transgender activism is about,” he said,” which is essentially recognizing civil rights based on gender confusion.”

Matt Barber, associate dean at Liberty University, said the appointment “boggles the mind.”

“This isn’t like appointing an African-American in order to try to provide diversity and right some kind of discriminatory wrong,” he said. “This is about political correctness.”

As a substantive matter, this is almost comical. A qualified woman was hired to do a job in government. This woman used to be a man. From this, the religious right raises the specter of “a transgender quota.” The notion that Amanda Simpson might actually be the best person for the job, and shouldn’t face discrimination, never enters the equation.

But as a political matter, I find it pretty interesting to see the difference in impressions when it comes to President Obama and efforts on issues important to the LGBT community. On the one hand, the religious right sees the White House embracing the politics of gay and transgender activism” and “pandering to the gay lobby.” On the other hand, many in the LGBT community see the White House as deeply disappointing, ignoring the issues that matter.

In the long run, I suspect it’s the former that will grow angrier. In his first year, the president has presented a package of domestic partnership benefits for federal workers, addressed the diplomatic passport issue, issued a strong Pride Month proclamation, hosted a White House event to honor the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, signed an expanded hate crimes bill into law, lifted the travel/immigration ban on those with HIV/AIDS, and recommitted to do even more. It’s not a bad start.

Over the next couple of years, I can only assume Focus on the Family’s mailings will grow even more strident. That’s probably a good thing.