His appointment could set back LGBT equality by decades
Christian evangelical extremists’ guidance of the Trump administration could roll back human rights gains, creating the type of living hell young LGBTQ Americans and their friends have never imagined.
The Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation gave President Trump a list of 25 nominees to choose from in replacing retiring moderate Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, and they all represented a threat to the human rights gains of the past half-century. The president dutifully chose Brett Kavanaugh of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals from the list that his core supporters designed to reverse the progressive measures Kennedy backed during his time on the high court.
Human rights organizations and LGBTQ leaders noted the list Trump chose from represented “extraordinarily extreme” proponents of conservative ideology who would harbor contempt for the nation’s LGBTQ community. The inclusion of another staunch conservative to follow Trump’s previous appointment, Neil Gorsuch, will tip the high court toward intolerance.
At risk are same-sex marriage rights, a woman’s right to choose, transgender rights, freedom from religious-based discrimination and anti-discrimination measures designed to protect all people — particularly LGBTQ people and immigrants.
To date no case involving transgender rights has reached the U.S. Supreme Court, but that could happen thanks to Trump’s determination to ban transgender people from military service. Multiple lower-level federal courts have blocked the president’s efforts so far, but one of the several transgender troop ban cases, such as Doe v. Trump, could wind up before the high court in the future.
On the subject of religious discrimination, cases involving the right of Christian bakers, florists and others to refuse service to same-sex couples undoubtedly will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court again. The high court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had overstepped its authority when it penalized Masterpiece Cakeshop for refusing to bake a cake, but it sidestepped the issue of whether the baker had unlawfully discriminated against the same-sex couple.
The case Arlene’s Flowers Inc. v. Washington, which involves a florist sued by the state of Washington for refusing to make a flower arrangement for a same-sex couple, could be the next religious discrimination case to reach the high court.
Employment discrimination is the focus of EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes. It involved the firing of a transgender woman by a Michigan Funeral Home when she came out. Federal civil rights laws do not include the categories of sexual orientation and gender identity, and less than half of the states include such language in nondiscrimination laws. Observers expect this case or one like it will also reach the high court.
A “bathroom case” such as Doe v. Boyertown Area School District will also likely be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Trump administration removed guidance measures instituted by the Obama Administration for school districts, and that has led to Boyertown in Pennsylvania and other school districts across the country to limit restroom use for transgender students to their biological sex.
Any one of these cases reaching the U.S. Supreme Court with two appointees by Trump will lead to unfavorable decisions for LGBTQ citizens and a backlash nationwide.
Conservative pundits claim concerns about how devastating a new high court with a majority of ultra-conservatives are “overblown,” but LGBTQ Americans — at least we oldies, if not the newbies — know better. We lived through the discrimination once, and we don’t want to do it again.
For all of the LGBTQ supporters of Trump and other Republicans who parrot the president’s claims about his spectacular economic success, money only goes so far to enrich your lives.
There was a time not all that long ago when law enforcement prevented gatherings of LGBTQ people not only in public but also private homes. It actually happened in the 1950s that district attorneys in some cities, including in Texas, waged wars on LGBTQ people and raided private homes to disrupt same-couples dancing with each other. If you aren’t free to enjoy your life without fear of discrimination and reprisal, you have nothing.
It’s essential that LGBTQ Americans and their friends vote in greater numbers than ever for progressive candidates to stop Christian evangelical conservatives from eroding human rights gains.
David Webb is a veteran journalist with more than four decades of experience, including a stint as a staff reporter for Dallas Voice. In 2016, he received the Press Club of Dallas’ Legends Award, bestowed in large part for his work with Dallas Voice. He now lives on Cedar Creek Lake and writes for publications nationwide.