Trump’s Supreme Court nominee is a threat to our equality, writes Julianna Gonen of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
By Julianna S. Gonen
April 05 2017
This week the Senate will vote on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court against a multilayered backdrop of opposition. Opposition that, for many LGBTQ rights advocates, only increased after Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings. During these hearings, Gorsuch referred to Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court case that recognized marriage equality, as “settled law.”
This acknowledgement should have come as a relief to many, particularly as the team of people with whom I work at the National Center for Lesbian Rights helped bring this case to the Supreme Court. However, it is cold comfort because after a slew of carefully worded answers, Gorsuch refused to affirm the legal reasoning underlying the court’s interpretation of constitutional protections for the LGBTQ community. Gorsuch has also endorsed the view that religious beliefs can justify discrimination, even when others are harmed. A vote to confirm Gorsuch would jeopardize the LGBTQ community’s hard-won achievement of basic freedom and constitutional rights.
Gorsuch is deeply skeptical of the fundamental constitutional rights recognized by the Supreme Court that ensure fair and equal treatment for LGBTQ people. The fact that the cases striking down antisodomy laws (Lawrence v. Texas) and recognizing marriage equality (Obergefell v. Hodges) have already been decided should not make us complacent. Right now there is a concerted effort by anti-LGBTQ organizations and elected officials to nullify Obergefell by contending that while it may require states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, it does not require equal treatment of married same-sex couples. The Arkansas Supreme Court recently issued a decision based on that very argument, holding that Obergefell does not require equal treatment of married same-sex couples with respect to the issuance of birth certificates for their children. And a few weeks ago the Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case in which state officials are arguing that Obergefell does not require equal employment benefits for same-sex spouses.
These are real, not hypothetical, concerns, and we have every reason to be gravely concerned that Judge Gorsuch would permit Obergefell and other decisions involving fundamental rights to be effectively nullified were he to be confirmed.
Gorsuch also espouses a breathtakingly broad view of religious liberty, one that allows virtually anyone who expresses a religious objection to opt out of laws with which they disagree. His ruling in the Hobby Lobby case (involving employee access to contraceptive coverage) before it reached the Supreme Court gave no consideration to the employees’ health care needs and instead endorsed a view of “complicity” that is sweeping and alarming. Under his reasoning, a religious objection to doing something that might even very indirectly facilitate conduct that violates the objector’s faith is enough to allow for an opt-out.
Continue reading at: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2017/4/05/gorsuch-skeptical-lgbt-people-deserve-rights