LGBTQ advocates and other progressive groups reacted with alarm last week to news that President Donald Trump has nominated a Texas assistant attorney general with a documented record of inflammatory statements about gay and transgender people to a US district court seat. If confirmed by the Senate, Jeff Mateer, who prior to working in the Texas attorney general’s office served as general counsel to the First Liberty Institute, an anti-LGBTQ religious litigation group, would sit on the Eastern District of Texas federal bench.
According to reporting by CNN, Mateer, in a 2015 speech titled “The Church and Homosexuality,” said that a transgender student’s efforts to use a school bathroom consistent with her gender identity “just really shows you how Satan’s plan is working and the destruction that’s going on.”
In the same speech, Mateer charged that the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling that year threatened “disgusting” changes in how society sanctions legal relationships.
“Somebody wanted to marry a tree,” he said, CNN reported. “People marrying their pets. It’s just like — you know, you read the New Testament and you read about all the things and you think, ‘Oh, that’s not going on in our community.’ Oh yes it is. We’re back to that time where debauchery rules.”
Later in 2015, appearing at a conference hosted by Kevin Swanson, a fringe pastor who argues that the Bible spells out the death penalty for homosexuality, Mateer denounced state laws banning so-called “conversion therapy” for minors aimed at altering their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Reacting to news of Mateer’s nomination, Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, in a written statement said, “How dare he? How dare anyone talk about children this way? This nomination is another slap in the face to hundreds of thousands of families across the country and their children who are transgender. How can they explain to their children that a public official, let alone a judge, speaks about them this way? This nominee simply cannot be confirmed.”
In a press release from the Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffin, the group’s president, said, “The Trump-Pence administration either failed to vet Jeff Mateer or they knew his hateful, extremist views and nominated him anyway. In either case, they must withdraw the nomination of someone who viciously attacks transgender children, openly embraced Mike Pence’s license-to-discriminate law in Indiana, and has repeatedly opposed anti-discrimination protections throughout his career. If the White House won’t withdraw this nomination, it is incumbent on the Senate Judiciary Committee to block this attack on LGBTQ people and the civil rights of all Americans.”
In a written statement, David Dinielli, deputy legal director at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said, “Jeff Mateer has demonized the most vulnerable members of our community and expressed support for conversion therapy — the dangerous, fraudulent, discredited, and inhumane practice that purports to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. There is no place on our federal bench for people who harbor this sort of extreme and dangerous bias.”