Statement on LGBTQ Discrimination By The Trump Administration And The Nomination of Matthew Kacsmaryk To Be U.S. District Judge For The Northern District Of Texas


Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
On LGBTQ Discrimination by the Trump Administration
and the Nomination of Matthew Kacsmaryk
to be U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Texas
Congressional Record

June 19, 2019

Later this month our nation will mark the 50th anniversary of the momentous uprising at the Stonewall Inn, an occasion that led to June being designated as Pride Month. From parades and celebrations to quiet remembrances, millions of Americans are reflecting on the progress made in the last 50 years for LGBTQ rights. But under the current administration, I fear some of that progress is at risk.

President Trump, who once claimed to be an ally of the LGBTQ community, has proven to be anything but that: His administration has pursued a series of administrative rule changes that seek to undermine the progress made by the LGBTQ community. That includes, at seemingly every opportunity, attempting to make life more difficult for transgender individuals, a community of people who already face daily discrimination.

The Trump administration has worked to erase the gender identities of federal inmates; to restrict access to health care and allow homeless shelters to freely discriminate against LGBTQ individuals under the false guise of religious freedom; and to ban transgender service members from our armed services, many of whom have served this country for years, including during times of war.

If discrimination by policy were not enough, President Trump also nominated an unapologetic anti-LGBTQ zealot for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench — a nominee Senate Republicans are ready to confirm on the floor this week.

Matthew Kacsmaryk has a long history of espousing uninformed, offensive, and downright bigoted views of LGBTQ individuals. In 2016, he wrote that the existence of transgender identity is a “delusion” and that treating transgender patients in accordance with their gender identity is “radicalism.” He has repeatedly disparaged the LGBTQ rights movement and described efforts to roll back progress as a “Long War Ahead.” He has argued that discrimination against LGBTQ persons should be legal in employment, public accommodations, and healthcare. He has opposed equality in every possible arena, including anti-discrimination provisions in reauthorizations of the Violence Against Women Act and the Runaway and Homeless Youth Trafficking and Prevention Act, two pieces of legislation that I authored and care about deeply — legislation that attempts to defend the most vulnerable in our society.

No one can credibly claim that an LGBTQ individual, seeking nothing more than equality under the law, would receive a fair hearing from a Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a man who considers himself a warrior in the effort to roll back LGBTQ rights. He is simply unfit to serve as a judge. The fact that Senate Republicans would consider the nomination of Matthew Kacsmaryk during Pride Month adds additional insult to the LGBTQ community, which rightly speaks with a single voice in opposition to this nominee.

Protecting LGBTQ rights need not be a partisan effort. Senator Ted Kennedy and I worked with Republican partners to pass the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law, which ensures that hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation or gender identity are federally recognized and prosecuted. I also worked with Senator Crapo when we authored the landmark reauthorization and expansion of the Violence Against Women Act in 2013, which expanded protections for LGBTQ victims. The Senate has an opportunity to come together again in enacting much-needed reforms by passing the Equality Act.

A most basic duty of government is to protect its citizens. By allowing President Trump to repeatedly attack the LGBTQ community without taking action or speaking out, the Senate is failing in our duty. American citizens will suffer greatly from discriminatory policies and judges with hostility toward the LGBTQ community. People at their most desperate will be refused medical care and turned away from shelters. Soldiers will be forced to hide who they are or risk being discharged and prevented from serving the country they love. Inmates will be housed with people of a different gender, opening the door to abuse.

If the President is able to sanction overt discrimination against marginalized members of society with impunity, the words “all men are created equal” have little meaning. I implore each member of this body to stand up for the rights of all our LGBTQ constituents and friends. Not just during Pride Month, but every month. I, for one, will stand with them.

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