Some of the Right’s most extreme anti-gay voices are up in arms this week because the judge set to hear the challenge to Illinois’ ban on same-sex marriage is gay herself. Judge Sophia Hall was a charter member of the Alliance of Illinois Judges, a group committed to “promoting and encourage respect and unbiased treatment for LGBT individuals as they relate to the judiciary, the legal profession, and the administration of justice.” This alone, these hate group leaders argue, should disqualify her. Peter LaBarbera of American for Truth About Homosexuality rounded up responses from Rena Lindevaldsen of Liberty University, who defended ex-gay child kidnapper Lisa Miller, and Scott Lively, who has promoted homophobia in Uganda and believes homosexuality is responsible for the Nazi party:
LINDEVALDSEN: If the tables were turned and she was a charter member of an organization that had as its mission to overturn Roe v. Wade and she was presiding over a case where the validity of Roe was in question, there would be incredible outcry to have her removed from the case. Given the significance of the case before her, Judge Hall should take steps to avoid even the perception of a conflict of interest, and recuse herself.
LIVELY: Judicial recusal to prevent the appearance of bias is an essential component of our legal system. Its authority depends on public confidence in its impartiality. Can anyone reasonably expect an open lesbian and member of a “gay rights” advocacy group to be impartial on the issue of “gay marriage”? If this judge has any respect at all for our judicial system, she must recuse herself.
Both comparisons are fallacious and insulting. Judge Hall helped found an organization committed to promoting professional respect, not a legal player or party to the case. It would be just as offensive to suggest that a woman could not rule on a case about women’s issues (as Lindevaldsen essentially does), that a person of color could not rule on an issue of racial civil rights, or that a person with any religious affiliation (like the many Catholic members of the Supreme Court) would be biased on any question of religion. Besides, if heterosexuals have a stake in “defending marriage,” as conservatives claim, then by their own argument no heterosexual could be unbiased either. LaBarbera, Lindevaldsen, and Lively stand appalled that Hall would admit she fights the “injustice of racism, gender bias, bias against gays and lesbians, and other stereotypes,” because they know that if she actually stands for justice — as her job demands — they will lose.