Minority Leaders Oppose Rao’s Nomination

Marcela Howell, Sung Yeon Choimorrow, and Jessica González-Rojas write in The Hill:

During her hearing, Rao stated that her op-ed position — “A good way to avoid a potential date rape is to stay reasonably sober” — was “just a commonsense observation.” While Rao issued a letter after the hearing insisting that she was not blaming survivors, she signed off on the Title IX changes regarding campus sexual assaults. Rao’s statements at the hearing and her work at OIRA reflect a lack of understanding that the systems of power and control can perpetuate rape culture.

Disturbingly, Rao has shown that she believes racial oppression is a myth. She has spoken derisively about affirmative action, suggesting that standards are dropped for “a few minorities.” More specifically, she referred to affirmative action as the “anointed dragon of liberal excess,” and said race, generally, is a “hot, money-making issue.” As organizations that fight for reproductive justice, including racial justice, we find this language to be deeply offensive and grossly out of touch with the realities our communities face every day. Currently, Rao is working with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to gut protections against housing discrimination based on race.

Rao also has espoused dangerous views on LGBTQ rights. In talking about activists for racial justice, gender equity and LGBTQ rights, she wrote, “Underneath their touchy-feely talk of tolerance, they seek to undermine American culture. … For example, homosexuals want to redefine marriage and parenthood.” As reproductive justice advocates, we believe that centering our intersectional identities enhances our society, rather than undermines it.