Boehner taps NOM founder for religious freedoms commission


House Speaker John Boehner chose Robert George, co-founder of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage, to serve on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell chose Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, to serve on the commission.

The commission was established to deal with the “challenges of religious extremism, intolerance, and repression throughout the world.

But critics of the appointments said this week that Jasser and George stoke intolerance.

George co-authored the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2001, which would have written discrimination into the U.S. Constitution. And, in 2004, he helped draft another discriminatory amendment to ban same-sex marriage. He wrote the “Manhattan Declaration,” a 4,700-word document denouncing not just same-sex marriage, but civil unions or any relationship recognition measure.

“For the Speaker to appoint someone who embodies NOM’s deep seated anti-gay animus is the wrong thing to do,” said HRC president Joe Solmonese. “This appointment is counter to the Commission’s stated mission because George represents a narrow and exclusionary ideology. Unfortunately, Rep. Boehner has further aligned himself with the extremist wing of his party.”

George, a professor at Princeton, is a top advisor to the ultra-conservative U.S. Catholic bishops.

Regarding Jasser’s appointment, Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said, “He has long been viewed by American Muslims and the colleagues in the civil liberties community as a mere sock puppet for Islam haters and an enabler of Islamophobia.”

Jasser, according to a Washington Post report, “lauded a controversial New York City police surveillance program that targeted Muslims and helped lead the opposition to an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero.”

Jasser is a cardiologist and activist from Arizona.

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