Anti-LGBT+ lawyer Lawrence VanDyke broke down in tears during his confirmation hearing. (Twitter)
One of Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, anti-LGBT+ lawyer Lawrence VanDyke, broke down crying at a hearing when accused of being anti-LGBT+.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held the confirmation hearing on Wednesday, October 30, to help decide whether VanDyke would be fit to serve as a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
But the American Bar Association (ABA) had written a letter saying that a “substantial majority” of its committee had rated VanDyke “not qualified” for the position, in large part because of his anti-LGBT+ record.
The letter read: “Some interviewees raised concerns about whether Mr. VanDyke would be fair to persons who are gay, lesbian, or otherwise part of the LGBTQ community.
“Mr VanDyke would not say affirmatively that he would be fair to any litigant before him, notably members of the LGBTQ community.”
Senator Josh Hawley asked the judicial nominee if it was true that he would not be able to judge fairly when it came to LGBT+ people, and VanDyke began to break down sobbing.
Through the tears, he said: “That was the part of the letter… No, I did not say that. I do not believe that.
“It is a fundamental belief that all people are created in the image of God. They should all be treated with dignity and respect, senator.”
Lawrence VanDyke, Trump’s nominee to the U.S. federal judiciary, breaks down at a Senate committee hearing after being questioned about his views on the LGBTQ community pic.twitter.com/qQyk3YZZAE
— Reuters (@Reuters) October 31, 2019
Trump’s judicial nominee Lawrence VanDyke may not treat LGBT+ people with “dignity and respect”, according to his record.
Lawrence VanDyke agreed that he would treat “every living entity” with dignity and respect, but his anti-LGBT+ record suggests otherwise.
In 2004, while a student at Harvard, he wrote an opinion piece in which he said that marriage equality would “hurt families, and consequentially children and society”.
According to The Hill, when asked about this during the hearing VanDyke said: “My personal views have definitely changed since 2004, but as to exactly what my personal views are, senator, I don’t want to leave the impression that those would play any role in how I would judge as a judge.”
In 2013, as Montana solicitor general, he supported state-wide bans on same-sex marriage and supported the Defense of Marriage Act. In the same year he also backed a photography company, Elaine Photography, which refused to take wedding photos for same-sex couples.
According to the Washington Blade, VanDyke wrote in an email at the time that if the Elaine Photography case went to the Supreme Court it “could be very important in establishing that gay rights cannot always trump religious liberty”.
Asked about the email during his hearing, VanDyke deflected and brought up a different case he was involved in which decided whether the Christian Legal Society at the University of California could bar LGBT+ people from joining.
VanDyke said: “It was a case involving LGBTQ rights and also involving religious liberty, and I’m so happy to have the role that I had in that case.”
Except the judicial nominee did not defend LGBT+ rights in that case. Although he represented “gays and lesbians for individual liberty”, the group was actually arguing that the society did have the right to exclude LGBT+ people.
Another of Trump’s nominees for the role, gay Republican Patrick Butamay, also took part in a confirmation hearing on the same day, although it was less dramatic.
California senator Dianne Feinstein said that Butamay did not have enough experience to be a federal appeals judge.