President-elect Donald Trump on
Wednesday announced he had picked Betsy DeVos, a strong supporter of
charter schools, for secretary of education.
“Betsy DeVos is a brilliant and
passionate education advocate,” Trump said. “Under her
leadership we will reform the U.S. education system and break the
bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver
world-class education and school choice to all families. I am pleased
to nominate Betsy as Secretary of the Department of Education.”
DeVos' husband, Richard “Dick”
DeVos, Jr., is the son of Amway co-founder Richard DeVos. The
younger DeVos served as CEO of the Michigan-based company from
1993-2002. He unsuccessfully ran for governor of Michigan as a
Republican in 2006. The senior DeVos, gave $100,000 in 2008 to the
campaign to approve Amendment 2, Florida's constitutional amendment
which excluded gay couples from marriage.
Betsy and Dick DeVos gave $200,000 to
the successful effort to place an amendment in the Michigan
Constitution defining marriage as a heterosexual union. Voters
approved the amendment in 2004. (Last year, the Supreme Court struck
down state marriage bans as unconstitutional.)
Dick's brother, Doug DeVos, through the
Douglas and Maria DeVos Foundation, gave half-a-million dollars to
the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) in 2009. NOM is the
largest and most vociferous group opposed to marriage equality.
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Betsy DeVos' mother, Elsa Prince
Broekhuizen, has donated to anti-marriage equality campaigns in
California and Michigan and served on the boards of anti-equality
groups such as Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council
(FRC), which her deceased first husband, Edgar Prince, co-founded.
Jon Davidson, legal director for Lambda
Legal, criticized the pick, calling DeVos “totally out of the
“Lambda Legal plans to monitor
closely any changes sought to be made by the Education Department and
the Trump Administration generally on protections of LGBT students
against discrimination and bullying, as well as other issues that
could affect our and allied communities, and to fight to preserve the
gains we have made,” Davidson told the Washington Blade.
The Senate must confirm DeVos'