Thursday, May 7, 2009

Conservatives and a Gay Justice

I sort of disagree with Richard Just's take on the right's reaction to a potential lesbian nominee. While all of the things he says about the right's arguments about gays are true:
As the gay rights battle has come to center more and more on the specific question of marriage, conservatives have frequently insisted that they are not anti-gay, just opposed to gays getting married. Conservatives are attached to this distinction because they know that, without it, they end up looking like bigots. But if they decide to make an issue of a Supreme Court nominee's sexual orientation, they would effectively be conceding that this distinction was a lie.
I'm not sure the right will see it that way. It seems pretty clear that the opposition to Obama's nominee is building already, even though Obama probably doesn't even have an official short list. They will not only pile on all the old arguments about "activist judges" and the like, but they will likely adopt Just's line of reasoning:
Of course, conservatives could try to have it both ways, and argue that they oppose a gay nominee because of gay marriage--that is, because it would bias the justice's vote should gay marriage ever come before the court.
To conservatives, they're willing to fight acceptance of gays in public life any way they can. They definitely don't want someone who is pro-gay like Elena Kagen and the same argument will be applied to Pam Karlan and Kathleen Sullivan, both of whom are openly gay. To them, those that are gay and those that advocate for gay rights are the same. They won't think anything of opposing a gay nominiee, much as they won't think anything of opposing a straight nominee that would be sympathetic to gay rights.

It's certainly nice to think that anti-gay conservatives have founded their arguments against gay marriage on logic and sound reasoning, but I think that might be giving them too much credit.

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