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The Sometimes-Heateded Senate Debate Over Roberta Achtenberg With AM-Religious Right, Bjt

May 22, 1993 GMT

Undated (AP) _ Excerpts from the Senate floor debate last week over Roberta Achtenberg’s nomination to be assistant secretary of housing and urban development for fair housing. A vote is scheduled Monday.

″We are crossing the threshold into the first time in the history of America that a homosexual, a lesbian, has been nominated by a president of the United States for a top job in the U.S. government. ... She has been a militant activist ... She is pushy, demeaning, demanding; she is a mean person, mean-spirited.″ Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C.

″She is not pushy and she is not demeaning and she is not demanding and she is not mean... and I am sure that the senator from North Carolina himself might be surprised at how many people think he is mean.″ Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

″Her record is one of intolerance, discrimination and vendetta against those who do not share her values and beliefs. ... She has used her public and private position to punish, extort, and wage economic war.″ Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss.

″In the twisted value system of Roberta Achtenberg, the Boy Scout tradition is a menace to society that needs to be quashed, and the sex club tradition is one which is beneficial and deserving of our protection and encouragement. I couldn’t disagree with this more.″ Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H.

″This is not a vote on whether a senator accepts homosexuality, approves of it, accepts it as the equal of a heterosexual lifestyle. I do not. ... It is a vote on whether I find her to be qualified to fill this position, and I most assuredly do.″ Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn.

″My daughter, Julia, is president of the Rhode Island Alliance for Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights ... I would not want to see her barred from a government job because of her orientation.″ Sen. Claiborne Pell, D-R.I.

″I have heard words like strident, extremist, terrorist, activist, twisted mind ... What is the purpose of this? There is only one purpose: that is, to divide and polarize. Another purpose is only to destroy her before she begins her work by destroying her integrity and her credibility by this kind of slurring innuendo.″ Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

″Over the last two days ... there gets to be a process where certain senators, particularly the senator from North Carolina, is directly or indirectly accused of being a bigot or a racist when he may be questioning the qualifications of a nominee based on that person’s record. I do not think we need it. I think it demeans the Senate.″ Lott.

″I know this debate is very heated. I do not feel very good about that.″ Boxer.

″I do not understand why we are not voting. It seems to me, we should vote on this nomination and we should go on with our work.″ Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn.