Friday, April 07, 2017

Gorsuch: Skeptical That LGBT People Deserve Rights

Today Senate Republicans used the "nuclear option" to kill the filibuster of U.S. Supreme Court nominees so that now justices can be approved for a lifetime appointment by a mere 1 vote majority. The result is that a man who cannot win 60 votes out of 100 will likely be appointed to the Supreme Court tomorrow where he will influence and determine legal rights for all Americans for possibly 30 years or more.  As a potentially swing vote, Gorsuch will literally decide who has legal rights and protections and who will not. Yes, I am aware that Gorsuch received unanimous approval on a voice vote for his appointment to the Court of Appeals as Republicans have disingenuously bloviated over and over again.   The GOP talking points, however, ignore decisions Gorsuch has participated in at the Court of Appeals and other subsequent statements and actions which show him to be unfit for the U.S. Supreme Court.  To me, the telling case was Hobby Lobby where Gorsuch's Court of Appeals opinion - as did the Supreme Court decision - placed legend and myth based religious belief of Christofascists over the civil rights (and physical autonomy rights) of others. A piece in The Advocate looks at Gorsuch's beliefs that LGBT individuals do not deserve equal civil rights.  Here are excerpts:
[T]he 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.
Religious refusals have long been a significant problem in the realm of reproductive health care, and we now see such refusals surfacing around nondiscrimination laws and the right to marry, which are core concerns for the LGBTQ community. Private businesses are fighting in court for the right to deny services to same-sex couples, states are introducing laws to allow sweeping religious opt-outs from nondiscrimination laws, and employers are citing Hobby Lobby to justify firing transgender employees. Elevating Gorsuch to the Supreme Court would be a serious setback to the equality of LGBTQ people for which we have all fought so hard.
We fear that with Judge Gorsuch on the bench, this continual exercise of securing freedom for all by applying the Constitution’s “central protections” will be halted and many, including LGBTQ people, would be left out in the cold.

Like far to many heterosexual white males, Gorsuch has no clue of the struggles that face LGBT citizens and other minorities.  Worse yet, from his refusals to answers questions and coy responses to others, the take away is that he simply does not care because they do not impact him.  This lack of empathy and concern for others - or even the ability to recognize them as equally human - has become a hallmark of today's largely Christofascist controlled Republican Party. 

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