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May 20, 2019

LGBTQ community worried about future with Kavanaugh’s nomination

October 5, 2018
The LGBTQ community is tuned into the Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination. (Alex Brandon / AP)

The Supreme Court nomination of jurist and beer enthusiast Brett Kavanaugh is anything but a straight question that happens to be playing out during Gay History Month.

Congress will vote Friday on whether to confirm the embattled judge, who’s been accused of sexual misconduct toward women and girls when he was in high school.

While hearings over the nomination have raised issues of how Kavanaugh might rule on women’s reproductive rights, members of the LGBTQ community are split on how their community will be affected. Some left-leaning organizations worry about the unknowns surrounding the right-leaning judge’s opinions on matters affecting their community, particularly with regards to health care and workers rights. Right-wingers argue that Kavanaugh’s limited record on those issues indicate he’s not interested in interfering in LGBTQ issues.

“If confirmed, Brett Kavanaugh will have a chance to ensconce President Trump and Vice President Pence’s hate-fueled anti-LGBTQ agenda on the nation’s top court for decades to come,” Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of the Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) said in a statement.

The civil rights organization has also expressed concern that Kavanaugh could move to overturn the landmark 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision that made the right to same sex marriage the law of the land.

The midterms could be impacted if LGBTQ community comes out to vote in November.
The midterms could be impacted if LGBTQ community comes out to vote in November. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP/Getty Images)

During his confirmation hearing last week, Kavanaugh was pushed by New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker with regard to Obergefell v. Hodges.

“I’m a judge, I apply the law,” Kavnaugh said. “The law of the land protects that right.”

Kavanaugh served as Bush’s staff secretary in 2006 when the administration was pushing for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

While Kavanaugh has not ruled on LGBTQ cases as a judge, he’s a conservative Catholic who has been criticized for siding with companies that rule they shouldn’t have to accommodate employee medical costs that are at odds with ownership’s religious beliefs.

One such case was Priests for Life v. HHS, where Kavanaugh went against fellow D.C. Circuit Court jurists who’d ruled employers not wanting their insurance company to cover female contraception for employees should be allowed an exemption by filing a form passing that cost onto the federal government. It was Kavanaugh’s thinking that employers with a conscientious objection shouldn’t have to fill out the form, either. How that line of thinking might be applied to medical issues concerning LGBTQ is a big question mark.

Kavanaugh refrained from offering his opinion of topics of that nature during his confirmation hearings because “the scope of employment discrimination law is being litigated right now.”

But some conservatives think Kavanaugh will make good on his word to be a constitutionalist and not an activist.

Gregory T. Angelo of the Log Cabin Republicans argues that the fact Kavanaugh didn’t address seminal Supreme Court decisions on LGBTQ during his 12 years on the D.C. Circuit Court is a plus.

He also thinks groups like the Human Rights Commission, which put out a comprehensive report claiming “Kavanaugh poses a direct threat to LGBTQ equality,” is wrong in its thinking.

“What is astonishing is that in the dozen pages issued by the HRC painting Kavanaugh as an enemy of the LGBT community, there is not a single mention of anything he has done, said, or written that could be even remotely construed as anti-LGBT,” Angelo said.

That HRC statement primarily expresses concern that records of Kavanaugh’s tenure as a White House aide have not been made public — despite outcry from Democrats at his confirmation hearing — and may provide insight into the judge’s views regarding LGBTQ rights.

Angelo points out that in 2003, while working for President Bush, Kavanaugh met with a group of over 200 gay men as part of a Log Cabin Republicans event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

“Hardly the mark of a raging homophobe jurist,” Angelo said.

He also points to the fact that Kavanaugh clerked for retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

“Kavanaugh served the most quantifiably pro-gay Supreme Court justice in the history of the United States,” according to Angelo.

Republican lawmakers have accused Democrats of trying to stall Kavanaugh’s nomination until the Nov. 6 midterm elections, where if they win, they could postpone confirming a Supreme Court Justice under President Trump. After Antonin Scalia died in Feb. 2016, the GOP used their congressional majority to deny a hearing for his successor — who’d been handpicked by president Obama — for nearly a year before instead tapping a conservative judge. According to Gallup polling, the LGBTQ community accounts for 5% of all voters.

For same sex couple Kelechi Anyanwu and Sara Sugar, until they hear otherwise, it’s all systems go as they make wedding plans for 2019.

“At this point, we’re not really concerned about marriage equality being repealed,” said Sugar, 35. She and her 32-year-old fiancee are already business partners as co-founders of Daloway Chocolate.

“We’re more grateful that Obergefell v Hodges was heard by the Supreme Court when it was,” Sugar said. “Just last week we were discussing how we’ll never take for granted the timing. We’re getting married next fall, and even though NYC passed marriage equality in 2011, it makes a big difference to us to have our marriage recognized across all 50 states.”

People attending the 2004 Log Cabin Republicans National Convention view a 2004 presentation for the Liberty Education Forum National Symposium in Palm Springs, Calif
People attending the 2004 Log Cabin Republicans National Convention view a 2004 presentation for the Liberty Education Forum National Symposium in Palm Springs, Calif (NAM Y HUH / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

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