The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals became the first federal appellate court on Wednesday to recognize that the 14th amendment guarantees all couples equal protection for their marriages, since the Supreme Court’s 2013 Windsor ruling. While the 2 to 1 majority opinion was written by Carlos F. Lucero, a Clinton appointee, it was joined by Jerome A. Holmes — a George W. Bush appointee in 2006.
Interestingly, Holmes was recommended for the post by one of the U.S. Senate’s most staunchly anti-LGBT members, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK). In a 2006 floor statement, the Oklahoma Republican lauded his nomination:
INHOFE: I am also proud of the fact that I have known Jerome Holmes for some 5 years. Frankly, prior to this nomination, I made recommendations to the President that he consider this man because he is so incredibly qualified. We all agree he is a man of great character and undeniably fit for the bench. He has connections with both Oklahoma City and throughout Oklahoma, as well as the District of Columbia, a family history that goes back. … At a time when our Nation is faced with the onslaught of judicial activism, he is a breath of fresh air and I believe he is a man of character and principle; that he will rule justly within the parameters of the law.
Inhofe went on to quote another judge he described as among his own “closest personal friends” also enthusiastically endorsing Holmes: “Mr. Holmes is dedicated completely to the rule of law, the proper role of the judiciary and to applying and interpreting the law without regard to personal views on given issues.” In conclusion, Inhofe said, “I worked hard in getting his name to the President, made that recommendation early on, and I believe he will be confirmed and history will reflect later on that he would be one of the greatest circuit judges, and I certainly encourage my colleagues to support his nomination to the Tenth Circuit.”
Oklahoma’s other anti-LGBT senator, Tom Coburn (R), also spoke in support of Holmes, telling his colleagues: “The fact is Jerome Holmes is a man of absolute character, impeccable credentials, and has integrity that nobody questions.” Holmes was confirmed on a 67 to 30 vote.
Inhofe has long been one of the Senate’s most vocally anti-LGBT members. In 2006 he boasted that “in the recorded history” of his family, there had never been “any kind of homosexual relationship.” He also noted at that point that he does not hire gay people to be on his Congressional staff “due to the possibility of a conflict of agenda.” On his current campaign website, he writes, “I have consistently supported and defended traditional marriage between one man and one woman as a cornerstone to the strength of our society. I strongly oppose the Obama Administration’s attack on traditional marriage and attempts to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.”
Coburn said in 2004: “The gay community has infiltrated the very centers of power in every area across this country, and they wield extreme power … That agenda is the greatest threat to our freedom that we face today. Why do you think we see the rationalization for abortion and multiple sexual partners? That’s a gay agenda.” He also denounced last year’s Windsor ruling as one that “violated the freedom of conscience of millions of Americans.”
Both co-sponsored a 2005 constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages.
Spokespeople for Inhofe and Coburn did not immediately respond to ThinkProgress requests for comment.