Last month, in a plea against the confirmation of Samuel A. Alito to the Supreme Court, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Joe Solmonese claimed that a glance at then-Judge’s “resume reads like an anti-gay textbook.” Actually, a glance at his resume reveals anything but. Solmonese had acknowledged as much in a November 2, 2005 press release (currently not accessible on HRC’s web-site) when he called it a “hopeful sign” that, according to the Boston Globe, the man who now sits on the Supreme Court, in 1971, “chaired a task force that recommended decriminalizing sodomy and saying discrimination against gays in hiring ‘should be forbidden.'” In November, Solmonese wisely noted that there “were very few people standing up for gay Americans 34 years ago.”
Yet, despite Alito’s early advocacy for gay rights, Solmonese twisted what The Malcontent‘s Robbie described as Alito’s “mixed record on gay rights” into a textbook portrait of an anti-gay bigot. And he wasn’t the only gay leader to do so. National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) Executive Director Matt Foreman called Alito’s appointment “dangerous” as his confirmation represented “a devastating blow to individual rights, civil liberties and equal justice under law in America.” Like HRC, NGLTF seems concerned that Alito’s appointment threatens the future of Roe v. Wade, the “landmark” 1973 U.S. Supreme Court preventing states from outlawing abortion which seems to be a sacred text to those on the left, including gay organizations. Indeed, the first issue the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) mentioned in its last-minute plea to block Alito’s confirmation was their claim that this good man “opposes reproductive freedom and will use his position on the court to undermine this fundamental right.”
While based on his confirmation hearings, it’s fair to draw the conclusion that now as a Supreme Court Justice, Alito would vote to overturn that sacred liberal decision, the gay groups twisted his decisions on issues affecting gays out of context so they could claim he’s anti-gay. As The Malcontent‘s Robbie put it:
There is no substantial, objective basis for gay rights groups and others to charge Justice Alito with homophobia or any other anti-gay attitudes. Instead, they must resort to cherry-picking cases in order to provide cover for their blatant Democratic partisanship.
Exactly. Gay groups opposing Alito have shown themselves more interested in carrying water for the Democrats than in serving the gay community. Since gay groups first announced their opposition to Alito’s confirmation, they have behaved as “the gay and lesbian adjuncts of a much broader left-wing movement”
Standing united with other left-wing groups in opposing this good man, they presented a dishonest portrait of the newest Justice, particularly related to his positions on gay issues. And in failing to tell the truth about this good man, they have failed the gay community. Many gay men and lesbians look up to these groups for information and advocacy on issues of concern to gay people. Instead of defining Alito as a man with, at worst, a mixed record on gay issues — and no identifiable anti-gay animus — they call him a textbook case of bigotry.
So focused were they on abortion rights, that they failed to consider the significance of the example he gave in his confirmation hearings of when he ruled for the little guy. He told of a high school kid who had been bullied because his peers believed him to be gay. This good man voted to overrule the school board’s decision preventing him from transferring to another school. It’s telling that the one example he would offer of his standing up for the little guy is a case where his ruling showed compassion for the kind of harassment many of us experienced in middle and high school.
Michael Adams, director of education and public policy for Lambda Legal, however, said he found “nothing in the hearings that allayed the serious concerns we had. . . . They confirmed our suspicions and concerns. . . . [particularly his] continued refusal to recognize Roe vs. Wade as settled law.” In his confirmation hearings, Alito speaks of the compassion he showed for a boy harassed because he might be gay and a spokesman for a gay legal group finds nothing is more concerned that once on the Supreme Court, the man would overturn Roe.
Given that I was working on papers the week of the confirmation hearings, I did not follow them as closely as I would have liked. When I finished my papers, I did read a number of articles, press releases and blogs on the hearings (and the judge’s record). I read conservative sources as well as MSM ones. And a good number of articles on non-conservative gay web-sites. From everything I read, I could find no evidence to back up the charge that Judge Alito is anti-gay. Yes, some bring up the Saxe decision, but he made clear in the hearings that he struck down the anti-bullying law (at issue in that case) not because of its gay component but because it was too broad to pass constitutional muster.
As I read about these hearings and his record, I discovered a man who was neither pro-gay nor anti-gay. In the few minutes of the hearings I saw him while harangued by Senator Kennedy and lectured by Senator Schumer, maintaining his composure, manifesting a truly judicial demeanor. It seems that such a man will adjudicate cases fairly, not biased towards a litigant because he happens to be gay or opposed to her because of her sexuality. He would, as he did in the case of that bullied young man, look at the facts of the case and apply the law appropriately.
I disagree with Log Cabin’s decision not to endorse Alito’s confirmation. I do think, however, that, after the hearings were concluded, the group’s president, Patrick Guerriero, did make an interesting observation, saying that his group lacked “clarity” on how Alito would “rule on matters impacting gay and lesbian Americans.” Far from Justice Alito’s resume being an “anti-gay textbook” as HRC’s Solmonese would have it, it is instead an open book on gay issues.
By putting forward an image of an anti-gay jurist, gay groups ignored the pro-gay statements that Justice Alito made before his confirmation and failed to address his opinions on issues concerning gay and lesbian officials in context. As leaders of our community, they owe it to us to paint an accurate picture of all nominees to such important offices. But, despite finding no evidence of anti-gay animus in any of Alito’s statements or decisions, they created a false impression of this good man. More concerned to side with other left-wing groups on the issue of the president’s Supreme Court nominees, these groups failed the gay and lesbian community they ostensibly serve.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com