On Wednesday, the Senate voted 52-46 to confirm as federal judge a man with a record opposing LGBTQ rights and reproductive rights. Matthew Kacsmaryk will sit on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. It is a lifetime federal judgeship.
Before his confirmation, 75 LGBTQ and allied groups signed a letter addressed to Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), ranking member of the committee, in opposition to Kacsmaryk’s nomination. Those groups included the National Center for Transgender Equality, Lambda Legal, and National Center for Lesbian Rights.
They wrote, “Mr. Kacsmaryk has challenged LGBT people’s right to form families at all, and argued that the families that they have formed are less legitimate than other families. He has denied in some cases that LGBT people really exist. His record reveals that he will be incapable of treating LGBT litigants fairly—no matter what body of law is at issue in the cases over which he may preside—because he does not acknowledge LGBT people as having a right to exist.”
Every Republican present except Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) voted to confirm Kacsmaryk. No Democrat who was present voted for in his favor.
Kacsmaryk has fought against a number of protections for LGBTQ people throughout his career, including marriage equality and anti-discrimination protections.
In a 2015 piece for Public Discourse, the journal of conservative think tank Witherspoon Institute, he wrote that civil rights are different from LGBTQ rights, or what he calls the “sexual revolution”:
The latter was rooted in the soil of elitist postmodern philosophy, spearheaded by secular libertines, and was essentially ‘radical’ in its demands. It sought public affirmation of the lie that the human person is an autonomous blob of Silly Putty unconstrained by nature or biology, and that marriage, sexuality, gender identity, and even the unborn child must yield to the erotic desires of liberated adults. In this way, the Sexual Revolution was more like the French Revolution, seeking to destroy rather than restore.
In 2016, Obama’s Health and Human Services administration finalized a rule to enforce Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits entities seeking federal funds from discrimination based on race, age, national origin, sex, and disability in health care programs. This includes discrimination based on gender identity, which benefits trans and non-binary people. Kacsmaryk, then deputy general counsel at the First Liberty Institute, complained that the rule acknowledged transgender people and, according to the Federalist, said that a collision on issues of gender identity that was once only possible was now inevitable.
“Before, we were dealing with a nebulous possible collision between a sexually revolutionized view of gender identity and the binary male/female view held by every Abrahamic faith: Jewish, Druze, Christian, Muslim, Mormon,” he said.
Kacsmaryk wrote for the National Catholic Register in 2015 that gender identity itself was “problematic.” He added, “…the Catechism holds that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,’ ‘contrary to the natural law,’ and do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity.’ The piece was titled, “The Abolition of Man … and Woman.”
In addition to his personal writings, he signed on to a 2016 letter that cites sources who call transgender people’s gender a “delusion” and says transition-related care “mutilates a healthy, non-diseased body.”
According to the Movement Advancement Project, only 21 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws explicitly prohibiting discrimination and gender identity in employment and housing. A 2017 nationally representative survey conducted by the Center for American Progress found that among those who experienced sexual orientation or gender identity-based discrimination in the last year, 43.7% said it negatively affected their physical well-being. (Editor’s Note: ThinkProgress is an editorially independent newsroom housed at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.)
Kacsmaryk has also opposed reproductive rights, arguing against a Washington state law to require pharmacies to provide emergency contraception and fighting against the contraceptive mandate in the ACA. He said lawsuits fighting the mandate would “protect innocent life from conception to natural death.”
President Donald Trump has chosen a number of anti-LGBTQ nominees, and, according to Lambda Legal, the Senate has moved them quickly through the confirmation process. Eight times more judges were confirmed to district courts in 2018 than 2017. The Senate confirmed 30 of Trump’s circuit court nominees in only two years compared to 16 in former President Barack Obama’s first two years in office. Before the Trump administration, the maximum number of circuit court judges confirmed in the first two years of an administration was 22 under former President George H.W. Bush. One in three of these nominees had a demonstrated anti-LGBTQ bias.
It is difficult for senators to properly question some of these nominees, the organization argues, because hearings on nominations have been held when Congress is in recess. And when that isn’t the case, hearings have had to accommodate so many nominees that senators have had even less time to question them all.