Amy Coney Barrett says she's 'not aware' of her own long record of bigotry
But the more we learn about her, the longer her list of anti-LGBTQ actions gets.
Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Donald Trump’s pick to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court, has a long record of associating with groups that oppose LGBTQ rights.
On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that for nearly three years, Barrett served as a trustee on the board of a private Christian school that discriminated against LGBTQ parents and teachers.
Trinity Schools Inc. has three schools located in Virginia, Indiana, and Minnesota. The private schools are tied to People of Praise, a network of Christian communities of which Barrett is a member. The schools’ anti-LGBTQ policies had been in place for years when Barrett joined the board of trustees in 2015, according to the AP’s report.
During Barrett’s time on the board, Trinity School reportedly had a policy that barred LGBTQ teachers from working at the school, and barred children of same-sex parents from attending the school.
Tom Henry, a former student at the Minnesota school, told the Associated Press about a school tour he gave to a prospective family in 2017. One parent, who was a lesbian, asked Henry how accepting Trinity School was of gay people. Henry, who is gay, wasn’t sure how to answer.
The next day, Henry met with the school’s headmaster at the time, Jon Balsbaugh, to ask how he should answer similar questions. Balsbaugh pulled out a document outlining a new policy from People of Praise condemning marriage equality, according to Henry.
“The next time that happens, you tell them they would not be welcome here,” Balsbaugh allegedly said.
The school’s policy appears to be in line with Barrett’s own thinking when it comes to LGBTQ rights, including marriage equality. In 2015, Barrett signed onto a letter that said “marriage and family are founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman” and “the significance of sexual difference and complementarity of men and women.”
Since 2011, Barrett has spoken to students at the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Blackstone Legal Fellowship on five separate occasions. The legal advocacy group — which has been designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — has defended forced sterilization for transgender people and argued that LGBTQ people are more likely to be pedophiles, among other extreme anti-LGBTQ positions.
The ADF has attacked LGBTQ rights in the courts at every turn, including in Bostock v. Clayton County, a landmark case decided in June that barred discrimination against LGBTQ people in the workplace. The group represented the defendant in the case, a funeral home that discriminated against a transgender employee.
Despite her active involvement in these groups, Barrett has repeatedly denied knowing about their anti-LGBTQ stances.
During Barrett’s confirmation hearings last week, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked Barrett, “Were you aware of the ADF’s decades-long efforts to recriminalize homosexuality?”
“I am not aware of those efforts, no,” she said.
In an Oct. 16 Senate questionnaire, Barrett said she did not learn the ADF funded the fellowship program until after they had paid for her speech, “or maybe when I saw the signature line in an e-mail.”
While Barrett didn’t offer any specific dates, disclosure forms show that she may have given her speech between 2015 and 2017 — when she was also serving on Trinity School’s board of trustees.
When asked when she learned that the ADF has supported efforts to recriminalize homosexuality, Barrett responded, “I have no specific knowledge of the efforts you describe.”
During Barrett’s confirmation hearing on Oct. 13, she called sexual orientation “sexual preference,” angering LGBTQ groups such as GLAAD and Lambda Legal.
“This is a dogwhistle. The term ‘sexual preference’ is used by opponents of equality to suggest that being #LGBTQ is a choice,” Lambda Legal tweeted.
Barrett later apologized for using those specific words, but still refused to say whether she believes a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity are immutable traits.
“Insofar as it is relevant to the disposition of legal questions, it would not be appropriate for me to opine on the immutability of sexual orientation,” Barrett wrote in her Senate questionnaire. “As I said at my hearing, however, I do not mean to imply that sexual orientation is not an immutable characteristic.”
Similarly, when asked about whether states can pass laws that discriminate against LGBTQ people, Barrett declined to respond.
While Barrett has become suddenly quiet about he views on LGBTQ rights, her past comments speak for themselves.
During a 2016 lecture at the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute, Barrett referred to transgender women as “physiological males who identify as females.”
She also said there was a “debate” about whether transgender women should be in bathrooms with “young girls present” — a comment that perpetuates the myth that transgender people are predators.
At the same lecture, Barrett defended Chief Justice John Roberts’ dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark Supreme Court case that ruled in favor of marriage equality.
“Those who want same-sex marriage, you have every right to lobby in state legislatures to make that happen, but the dissent’s view was that it wasn’t for the court to decide,” she said at the time. “So I think Obergefell, and what we’re talking about for the future of the court, it’s really a ‘Who decides?’ question.”
On Tuesday, Jim Obergefell and Rick Hodges — the plaintiff and defendant in Obergefell v. Hodges — teamed up to speak out against Barrett’s confirmation.
“I stand before you as a lifelong Republican and longtime public servant,” Hodges, the former director of the Ohio Department of Health, said on a conference call hosted by the group Family Equality.
“I fear that that’s what’s at stake with this fateful nomination to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: that all Americans are treated with full dignity and respect, regardless of who they are or whom they love,” he said.
“Thus I stand here today with my friend Jim, bound by our names on a historic, momentous, and frankly, wonderful decision, to oppose the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett.”
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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