Leading homosexual groups announce opposition to Roberts
WASHINGTON (BP)--Some of the nation's leading homosexual activist groups Aug. 25 announced their opposition to John Roberts' Supreme Court nomination, joining abortion rights groups, liberal organizations and a handful of Democratic senators who have stepped up their criticism of Roberts in recent weeks.
Four homosexual groups -- the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays -- issued a joint statement, saying Roberts' confirmation would endanger homosexual causes. HRC is the nation's largest homosexual activist organization, while the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force claims to be the oldest.
Homosexual activists have made nearly all their gains through the legal system. In 2003 the Supreme Court issued its Lawrence v. Texas decision striking down anti-sodomy laws. That same year the Massachusetts high court issued its opinion legalizing "gay marriage," and this year a federal judge ruled Nebraska's marriage amendment unconstitutional.
Because it was a 6-3 decision, the Lawrence decision would be safe for the time being even if Roberts is confirmed. But his presence on the court could impact other significant cases. A lawsuit seeking "gay marriage" recognition nationwide is pending in federal court, as is a suit asking the court to overturn the military's ban on only homosexuals serving. Both could end up before the Supreme Court.
The high court could consider other similar cases in the future, including ones on homosexual adoption and workplace discrimination. Roberts would replace Sandra Day O'Connor, who sided with homosexual activists in two major decisions.
"His writings as a lawyer," the homosexual groups’ joint statement read, "his rulings as a judge, and his statements as a policymaker all lead us to the unfortunate conclusion that Judge Roberts would not vote to protect our civil rights from those who are, at this moment, fighting so hard to take them away. Instead, his record indicates that Judge Roberts would vote to roll back the constitutional protections upon which our community -- and all Americans -- rely."
Abortion rights groups began their campaign against Roberts the day he was nominated, as did the organization Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Since then, another liberal group, People for the American Way, announced its opposition. Several Democratic senators have criticized Roberts while stopping short of saying they oppose him. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D.-Vt., said Roberts holds "radical" views, while The Washington Post reported that Sen. Edward Kennedy, D.-Mass., said documents from Roberts' past show "that he was on or beyond the outer fringe of that extreme group eager to take our law and society back in time on a wide range of issues of individual rights and liberties."
Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said the opposition to Roberts by homosexual groups reveals much about their view of the Constitution.
"It's just indicative of the fear of some of these fringe groups that they're going to lose a Supreme Court that views the Constitution with an Etch a Sketch mentality -- that it can be rewritten to suit their own whims," Hausknecht told Baptist Press.
The groups say they have difficulty with Roberts' views of:
-- Equal Protection
"As a Reagan administration lawyer," the statement read, "Roberts wrote that by reading the Equal Protection Clause to cover classifications other than race, the court had imposed 'values which do not have their source in that document.'"
-- "Court stripping"
Last year the House of Representatives passed a bill that would prevent federal courts from reviewing the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that gives states the right not to recognize a "gay marriage" from another state. The bill, called the Marriage Protection Act, did not receive a Senate vote.
"Roberts' writings indicate that he believes such statutes are constitutional, a view that undermines the court's constitutional function as it has been understood for over 200 years," the statement read.
The groups claim a "clear consensus" among social science, psychiatric, psychological and medical associations "in favor of LGBT equality." Courts, though, are "frequently presented with unfounded assertions" that the evidence conflicts.
"The way that a judge regards research findings before the Court can affect a case's outcome," the statement read. "In short, it can mean the difference between Goodridge, in which the Massachusetts court ruled that there was no rational basis for excluding same-sex couples from marriage, and Lofton, in which the Eleventh Circuit upheld Florida's anti-gay adoption law even though every credible social science and child advocacy group opposed it."
The statement referenced Roberts' brief pro-bono work on behalf of the 1996 Romer v. Evans Supreme Court case, a decision overturning a Colorado constitutional amendment that prevented the state from giving civil rights status to homosexuality. The homosexual groups said his work on the case is "not relevant" to how he would vote as a Supreme Court justice.
"Judge Roberts has such a narrow view of what the courts can and should do, it's a wonder he wants the job at all," Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said in a statement. "Ultimately, this is about an individual’s right to privacy. From women's rights to religious freedom to civil rights, there is powerful evidence that Judge Roberts would rule against equality."
But Hausknecht, of Focus on the Family Action, said Roberts' views are in line with a strict interpretation of the Constitution.
"Judge Roberts has demonstrated in his tenure as a circuit court judge and in his responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he is a judge that takes judicial restraint very seriously," Hausknecht told BP. "Such a view is anathema to these groups, who need a court that will legislate from the bench. That's the only way their radical ideas will see the light of day."
For more information about the national debate over "gay marriage," visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage