(House Oversight Committee Democrats)
Because Republican Rep. Darrell Issa's hearing "Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?" is a very serious matter that is all about religious freedom and not at all about birth control, no siree, it can only feature the testimony of very serious religious persons whose freedom is important. And when Darrell Issa's running the hearing, only men who agree with Darrell Issa deserve a platform to speak about their freedoms.
As Kaili Joy Gray wrote yesterday, "Issa won't be hearing from any of the nearly two dozen religious groups who have no problem with the Obama administration's new health care policy to require insurance coverage of birth control." That list of the uninvited includes "representatives from the Catholic Health Association, which is run by a woman and actually runs the Catholic hospitals, nor Catholic Charities, both of which said Friday they supported the president’s plan."
Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee, asked to invite a witness, but, as Cummings recounts:
When my staff inquired about requesting minority witnesses for this hearing, we were informed that you would allow only one. Based on your decision, we requested as our minority witness a third-year Georgetown University Law Center student named Sandra Fluke. I believed it was critical to have at least one woman at the witness table who could discuss the repercussions that denying coverage for contraceptives has on women across this country.Fluke had been chosen to talk "about a classmate who lost an ovary because of a syndrome that causes ovarian cysts. Georgetown, which is affiliated by the Catholic Church, does not insure birth control, which is also used to treat the syndrome." But that's unrelated to the topic of the hearing, at which women don't count because it's not about birth control, it's about the religious freedom to deny birth control coverage, and that's different. Religious organizations that support the administration's position don't count because ... well, they don't.
In response, your staff relayed that you had decided as follows:
“As the hearing is not about reproductive rights and contraception but instead about the Administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience, he believes that Ms. Fluke is not an appropriate witness.” [...]
Instead of inviting Ms. Fluke to testify, your staff informed us that you planned to invite a different witness who was no longer available after being informed of your decision to limit the minority to a single witness. Compounding this insult, this afternoon you added two more witnesses of your own, in violation of Committee rules requiring three days notice for witnesses called by the majority.
8:41 AM PT: Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) walked out of the hearing in protest, and Holmes Norton "told reporters in the hallway outside the hearing that she marched out because it was being conducted like an 'autocratic regime.'"