By Michael O’Brien and Molly K. Hooper - 10/15/09 11:19 PM EDT
The lawmakers accused Jennings of “pushing a pro-homosexual agenda” and said that Jennings’s past writings exhibit a record that makes him unfit for the position.
Jennings has come under scrutiny from conservative personalities like talk show host Sean Hannity for his handling of an alleged incident involving underage sex, as well as Jennings’s own reported personal history with drugs and alcohol — charges the GOP members echoed.
The letter was primarily assembled by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and was joined by 52 Republican colleagues, including two members of leadership: House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) and House Republican Conference Vice Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.).
Jennings, who founded the Gay and Lesbian Independent School Teacher Network (GLISTeN), was appointed by Obama to head the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, a position Jennings assumed in July.
“Kevin Jennings cannot gain the approval of parents who want their children safe and their schools drug free,” the Republican congressmen said. “You should replace him with someone who has a record of educating children in a safe and moral environment.”
The Jennings controversy follows the Sept. 6 resignation of green-jobs czar Van Jones and the long-blocked nomination of Cass Sunstein as regulatory czar.
Openly gay senior Democratic Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.) called the effort a way for “anti-gay” lawmakers to keep that issue at the forefront.
“This is just an effort to exploit anti-gay feeling — they have this anti-gay view that they understand is becoming less and less popular with the public,” Frank told The Hill on Thursday.