Folding Up The Big Tent

Coming on the heels of our posts about Sen. Brownback’s one-man filibuster of one of President Bush’s judicial nominees because she may have presided over a commitment ceremony for a lesbian couple back in 2002, USA Today ran a tangentially related article on the miniscule rise in the number of openly gay judges.

Not surprisingly, the Right doesn’t like it

“We don’t accept that homosexuality is any kind of cultural identity that should be sought in a judge,” says Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council, a conservative advocacy group in Washington, D.C., that opposes same-sex marriage. “We think it’s a behavior, not something that should be held up as a role model.”

Sprigg … says gay judges are acceptable to his group — as long as their sexual orientation isn’t a factor in their work.

“We don’t think we should make an issue of it, if they keep it private,” he says. “If we had reason to believe that they would pursue a pro-homosexual agenda, then we would vigorously oppose them.”

Funny, when Democrats raised concerns about whether some of President Bush’s judicial nominees could keep their “deeply held” religious beliefs from influencing their work on the bench, the Right accused them of being bigots.   

The article also describes a “chilling atmosphere” that might help explain why so few are openly gay on the bench.

Such sentiments [like those expressed by Sprigg] — and the partisan politics that surround judicial nominations on the federal level — help explain why there appears to be only one openly gay judge on the 875-member federal bench, where appointments are for life.

So the Right says gays can’t be judges. Nor can they be Republicans, for that matter, at least according to one of Sprigg’s colleague at FRC

“The big-tent strategy could ultimately spell doom for the Republican Party,” said Tom McClusky, chief lobbyist for the Family Research Council, a Christian advocacy group. “All a big-tent strategy seems to be doing is attracting a bunch of clowns.”