Failure to Discriminate against Gays “Opens Gate For the Other Side”

The New York Times reports that President Obama is “under pressure to engage on a variety of gay issues that are coming to the fore amid a dizzying pace of social, political, legal and legislative change.”

Noting that marriage equality is rapidly advancing in several states and the District of Columbia, many activists are “unsettled by what they see as the president’s cautious approach”and are urging him to become more engaged on these issues.

One way he could do so is with his next Supreme Court appointment, though the Times suggests that that could carry its own risks:

[I]f he appoints a gay person to the Supreme Court, he would be viewed by social conservatives — including many black ministers, another of his core constituency groups — as putting a vote for same-sex marriage on the highest court in the land. Two gay women, Kathleen M. Sullivan and Pamela S. Karlan, both of Stanford Law School, have been suggested as potential nominees.

“That would be tantamount to opening the gate for the other side,” said Bishop Harry J. Jackson Jr. of the Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., who is organizing protests in Washington, where the City Council passed an ordinance this week recognizing same-sex marriages in other states. “If he meant what he said about marriage then I think he has got to stand up and be a president who acts on his beliefs.”

First of all, if the Times is going to suggest that black ministers who supported Obama might be put off by a gay Supreme Court nominee, it might behoove them to find one who actually supported Obama saying that instead of relying on bona fide member of the Religious Right such as Jackson who has been an open and vocal opponent of Obama and his agenda since day one.

Secondly, as I just noted in my last SCOTUS round-up, there has been lots of speculation about how the Right would react to a gay SCOTUS nominee, with some Republican Senators saying it wouldn’t be much of an issue, while people like Tony Perkins were warning that it would be a “bridge too far.”

Obviously, Jackson’s statement suggests that we should expect far more of the latter type of response from the Religious Right than the former should Obama appoint a gay nominee.