Neil Gorsuch on Gay Issues: It’s Bad, Bad News
It may not surprise you to learn that Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court is bad news for women and people of color, and great news for anyone who’s rich. And of course, he’s bad news for LGBTQ people as well — even with the few things he’s said about them. Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court would be an immediate threat to the freedom to marry, to getting medical care, to having a place to live or to even using the bathroom.
Neil Gorsuch is Hostile to LGBT Equality
Over his career, Gorsuch hasn’t said much about LGBTQ people. But he did express opposition to minority groups (including gays) who use the courts to secure equal rights. That’s a huge problem, since it was in the Supreme Court that same-sex couples had the freedom to marry affirmed, thanks to the constitution’s guarantee of due process and equal protection. Does Gorsuch believe those principles don’t extend to LGBTQ people? It sure seems that way. And that’ll be a big problem if a case comes before him challenging the freedom to marry.
And that could happen sooner rather than later. Republicans all over the country have introduced lawsuits and bills that seek to upend marriage equality. In Texas, state officials have argued that although same-sex couples are married, they can still be treated legally like they’re single. They could be denied access to a spouse in a hospital, or denied Social Security, or prevented from making medical decisions for their kids. That position could end up challenged before the Supreme Court, and is exactly the type of discrimination that Gorsuch has said should be ignored by the courts.
Neil Gorsuch is Always on the Side of Religion Over Equality
His rulings contain numerous causes for alarm. He’s one of the chief architects of the Hobby Lobby decision, which held that corporations are people and can have religious beliefs, and those beliefs can exempt them from laws that everyone else has to follow. Gorsuch upheld a decision to deny medical care to trans people in prison, and wrote that employers can bar trans employees from using the bathroom because of “safety.” He sided with a nursing home that wanted a religious exemption to health care laws in a case known as Little Sisters. And he sided with officials who wanted to build religious monuments on public property.
Here’s what’s troubling about that pattern: He’s demonstrated that he’s clearly OK with laws that give people religious exemptions from having to follow the law. As a result, he’s likely to be sympathetic to those turn-away-the-gays bills that have been spreading across the country. As it happens, congressional Republicans are pushing a “First Amendment Defense Act” that would allow anyone in the country to treat queer people as second-class citizens with no repercussions, as long as they cited religious beliefs as justification.
That means queers could be kicked out of school, or denied a loan, or evicted. If you marry someone from another country, they could be denied citizenship. LGBTQ people could be denied access to their partner’s ashes, or left off of birth certificates. Scenarios like these were not unheard of until the Supreme Court ruled that queers are protected by the Constitution — and in some parts of the country, some of these things are still legal.
What We Stand to Lose
Gorsuch’s record shows that he’s likely to uphold these forms of discrimination. With him on the court, queer people could lose more than just marriage — they could lose housing, employment, adoption, immigration, health care, taxation and more.
If there’s a silver lining to his nomination, it’s that Congress will have to vote on his appointment. That means that elected officials will have to go on the record about whether they’re aligned with his dangerous ideology. There’ll be no hiding which Senators support equality and which are opposed, and that’s information that will be very helpful indeed when it comes time for the next election.