Franken Attacks Education Secretary Nominee Betsy DeVos on Conversion Therapy
Washington D.C. – Education Secretary Nominee Betsy DeVos faced a slew of personal attacks during her Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday evening. Sen. Franken was one of several Democrats to take aim at the nominee.
In a question hardly related to education, Franken accused DeVos of being anti-LGBT and supporting conversion therapy, a belief that homosexuals can change their orientation through therapy.
Franken cited donations from relatives of DeVos to organizations like Focus on the Family as reason to believe that DeVos herself held this belief.
“Mrs. Devos, your family has a long history of supporting anti-LGBT causes including donating millions of dollars to groups that push conversion therapy,” Franken said during the hearing. “For example, you and your family have given over $10 million dollars to Focus on the Family, an organization that currently states on its website that ‘homosexual strugglers can and do change their sexual behavior and identity.’”
Franken expounded on the faults of the conversion theory, continuing to try to associate DeVos with the unpopular theory.
“Mrs. Devos, do you still believe in conversion therapy?”
“I have never believed in that,” DeVos replied. “I fully embrace equality and I believe in the innate value of every single human being and that all students, no matter their age, should be able to attend a school and feel safe and be free of discrimination.”
DeVos went on to challenge Franken’s “characterization of contributions” as an inaccurate representation of donations made by her immediate family, implying Franken was using donation data from more distant relatives.
Throughout the questioning, Franken couldn’t hide his disdain for DeVos, as evident in his first question about proficiency tests versus growth tests. Instead of focusing on questioning DeVos, Franken spent more time discussing his own opinions.
“This brings me to the issue of proficiency versus growth, and I would like your views on the relative advantage of doing assessments and using them to measure proficiency or to measure growth,” Franken said.
Confused by what Franken was trying to ask, DeVos attempted to get clarification on the question. Instead of clarifying the question and allowing her to answer, Franken chided her on her confusion, and took the moment to answer the question for himself instead.
This was a common thread throughout Franken’s questioning. Of the seven minutes Franken was allotted for vetting DeVos, he spoke for over five minutes.
Watch the full video of Sen. Franken’s questioning of Education Secretary Nominee Betsy DeVos below.