Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-07-10
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Kavanaugh hearings, no comment and no comfort
by Lisa Keen, Keen News Service

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

It was the third day of a four-day confirmation hearing for federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh to join the U.S. Supreme Court before a senator really pressed hard for him to account for his commitment to equal rights for LGBT people. U.S. Senator Cory Booker ( D-NJ ) started off, trying to get Kavanaugh to agree that he wouldn't fire somebody because of the color of that person's skin or their gender.

"Of course," Kavanaugh agreed.

"Would it be wrong to fire somebody …if the person is, gay?" asked Booker.

Kavanaugh could have said, "I wouldn't do that." Instead, he said, "in my workplace, I hire people because of their talents and abilities…." The response implied —but did not assert— that sexual orientation would not be a factor for him.

Booker pressed on. He asked whether, as a matter of law, Kavanaugh would "have a legal right to fire someone just because they're gay?"

Kavanaugh could have said that the law varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Or he could have said, as he did in response to a question about how his personal religious beliefs might impact his work, say that his private beliefs "have no relevance to my judging."

Instead, Kavanaugh said "the scope of employment discrimination laws is being litigated right now and, therefore, while I'd like to talk to you about this more, because that issue is in a variety of cases right now, it'd be inconsistent…."

Booker interrupted to say that some people have "real concerns that, if you get on the court, folks who are married right now really have a fear they will not be able to continue those marital bonds."

Booker then noted that, in a majority of states, an employer can fire someone for posting a picture on social media that indicates they have a same-sex spouse.

He then probed Kavanaugh about what personal views Kavanaugh may have expressed about same-sex marriage when he served as staff secretary to President George W. Bush. Bush spoke out in favor of a federal constitutional amendment to ban marriage for same-sex couples.

Earlier in the day, when Senator Dianne Feinstein ( D-Calif. ) asked Kavanaugh whether he worked to support Bush's pro-life agenda, Kavanaugh responded that he "had to assist him in pursuing those policies" and acknowledged that "some of those things might have crossed my desk. I don't remember specifics." He gave a similar response on the constitutional amendment: "When I was in the White House, that was …something that [Bush] talked about."

Booker interrupted him again, asking if Kavanaugh, on the White House staff, "expressed an opinion" about the constitutional amendment or same-sex marriage.

Kavanaugh said that things related to Bush's remarks on the issue "would have crossed my desk…."

Noting that many documents related to Kavanaugh's work in the White House between 2001 and 2006 were being withheld by the Bush archive, Booker pressed again:

"Did you ever express your opinions about same-sex marriage?" pressed Booker.

"I don't recall," said Kavanaugh. "Of course, at that time, as you are well aware, there has been a ...sea change in attitudes in the United States of America…."

Booker pressed again and again for Kavanaugh to say what his attitude was about same-sex marriage at that time. But Kavanaugh dodged each inquiry, saying only that there had been "debate" about the issue in the White House but that he could not "recall" what his opinion had been. Asked what his opinion is "now," Kavanaugh would say only that, "I apply the law….The law of the land protects that right, as dictated by the Supreme Court."

No answer is no comfort

That exchange did nothing to quell concerns in the LGBT community that Kavanaugh is an ultra-conservative, maybe even anti-LGBT, jurist who will almost certainly give the Supreme Court's existing four conservative justices the fifth vote they need to vote against the equal rights interests of LGBT people. Nor did a similar exchange with Senator Kamala Harris ( D-Calif. ). She asked repeatedly whether Kavanaugh thinks the decision to strike state bans on marriage for same-sex couples ( Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 ) was correctly decided.

Earlier in the hearing, Kavanaugh did not hesitate to call Brown v. Board of Education, which ended segregation of public schools, the "greatest moment in Supreme Court history." Harris echoed that remark, pushing Kavanaugh to express his opinion on Obergefell.

But Kavanaugh continued to evade answering Harris' questions and tried to simply eat up the senator's limited time by recounting the history of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinions in various LGBT related cases.

Kavanaugh did paraphrase a significant statement in Kennedy's opinion in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado ( this year ) that "the days of discriminating against gay and lesbian Americans, or treating gay and lesbian Americans as inferior in dignity and worth, are over." ( In his opinion, Kennedy worded it this way: "Our society has come to the recognition that gay persons and gay couples cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth. For that reason the laws and the Constitution can, and in some instances must, protect them in the exercise of their civil rights." )

"Do you agree with that statement," asked Harris.

Kavanaugh would not answer the question, stating only that Kennedy's opinion was precedent.

Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, called Kavanaugh's "refusal to confirm that Obergefell was correctly decided" as "chilling" and said it "poses an unprecedented threat to the liberty and equality of LGBT people."

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said Kavanaugh's refusal to answer questions about the Obergefell decision was "alarming."

"If this nominee cannot so much as affirm [Obergefell] or the fundamental equality of LGBTQ people and our families, he should not and must not be granted a lifetime appointment to our nation's highest court," said Griffin.

An HRC paper on Kavanaugh last month characterized the nominee as a "direct threat to the constitutional rights" of LGBT people and other Americans.

"Judge Kavanaugh's record on reproductive rights, the right to privacy, and religious liberty indicates a potent combination of ideological views that could significantly and unnecessarily reshape constitutional doctrine and nondiscrimination protections as they apply to LGBTQ persons," said the paper. The paper notes that Kavanaugh has frequently cited the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who led the dissent to Obergefell and many anti-LGBT opinions, has one of his legal heroes.

Kavanaugh himself has not participated in an LGBT-specific case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. But HRC, like Senator Booker, believes he likely does have a record on LGBT issues from his tenure in President George W. Bush's White House from 2001 to 2006. HRC's paper on Kavanaugh said "it is reasonable to infer he was involved, given the central function of the White House Staff Secretary and Kavanaugh's record of participating in so many of the politically consequential decisions of the Bush campaign and first term."

Papers that have been released from Kavanaugh's work in the White House have illustrated that his acceptance of Supreme Court precedent in regards to abortion is tenuous. During last week's confirmation hearing, he told Senator Feinstein that the Supreme Court's ruling in abortion rights cases is "precedent." But with the release of some documents from his time in the White House, the public could read that, in 2003, he opined, "I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule its precedent, and three current Justices on the Court would do so."

One particularly interesting moment during the four-day hearing came when a Republican, Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina, following on the heels of Booker's questions, looked into the camera —not at Kavanaugh—and said, "Quite honestly, if firing someone because of their gender identification is immoral….if anybody even suggested it that's ever worked in my organization, they'd get fired before the sun set."

"I've been very passionate about this issue since 1997, when I set up a gay and lesbian recruiting practice at Price Waterhouse. That is becoming the norm," said Tillis. " But, he added, "It's on us [presumably referring to Congress] to fix it. It's not on the judge to determine how we're gonna get it done."

© 2018 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Justice John Paul Stevens, early supporter of LGBTQs 2019-07-24 - Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery this week, was one of the first ...

Gay News

Couple face challenges, pursue justice for foster daughter 2019-07-24 - A North Side queer couple who, for two years, have been foster parents to a special-needs toddler are awaiting the court hearing that ...

Gay News

Volumes of racism, xenophobia on blast 2019-07-24 - The first time I heard the racial trope "Go back to where you came from," I was getting off of a school bus ...

Gay News

'CLLAW XXXIII' in town July 27 2019-07-24 - The Chicago League of Lady Arm Wrestlers ( CLLAW ) returns to Chicago with "CLLAW XXXIII: A Midsummer Night's Smack Down" on Saturday, ...

Gay News

WORLD Russia items, Northern Ireland reform, Malaysia police 2019-07-24 - The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Russian government must pay approximately $41,000 in damages to three LGBT-rights groups for having ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Torres' run, tribe OKs marriage, Bernie Sanders, Netflix 2019-07-24 - New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres made history when he announced his bid for a seat in New York's House of Representatives, Queerty ...

Gay News

MUSIC Queer musician Bitch on Pride, politics and musical hiatus 2019-07-23 - L.A.-based queer musician Bitch is no stranger to thinking outside of the box. After years on hiatus, she came back with a political ...

Gay News

Fundraiser established to assist Gigi Mayona√®'s family 2019-07-22 - An online fundraiser has been established to assist with funeral expenses for Jherrion Bates, who performed under the drag persona of Gigi Mayonaè, ...

Gay News

Reports: Man to testify about role in suicide-murder plot 2019-07-22 - An Oxford University official will testify against a Northwestern University researcher with whom he carried out a murder plot as part of a ...

Gay News

Puerto Rico guv won't resign but won't run for re-election either 2019-07-22 - On July 21, embattled Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello stated he will not seek re-election and will step down as head of his ...


Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.