The U.S. Senate narrowly confirmed Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as U.S. attorney general after a rancorous debate and criticism of a long anti-LGBT career.
Lawmakers approved Sessions as the nation’s top lawyer by a 52-47 vote along party lines. The Republican caucus, including Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), was unified in support of Sessions. The Democratic caucus, including lesbian Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), was largely opposed, although Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) broke ranks to vote with Republicans.
Sessions, who has been a U.S. senator since 1997 and was previously Alabama’s attorney general and a federal prosecutor, was one of Donald Trump’s most controversial Cabinet nominees. Sessions has opposed marriage equality, LGBT-inclusive hate-crimes laws, the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the latest (and LGBT-inclusive) version of the Violence Against Women Act, and other progressive measures. He is deeply opposed to abortion rights and immigration reform, and he has come under fire for his prosecution of voting rights activists in Alabama. He has been accused of making racist statements — something that derailed his nomination for a federal judgeship in 1986, and something he has denied.
As Attorney General, Sessions has stated that he will prioritize “religious freedom,” as in the proposed “First Amendment Defense Act” (FADA) which permits legalized discrimination against LGBT people.