Civil Rights Leaders and Senators Discuss #WhatsAtStake for LGBTQ Rights in SCOTUS Fight

WASHINGTON – The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights hosted a telephone press briefing with civil rights leaders and senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today to discuss what’s at stake for LGBTQ rights in the Supreme Court vacancy and nomination process. The speakers emphasized how nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s troubling record on health care, discrimination, and religious exemption would disproportionately harm the LGBTQ community.

A recording of the press briefing can be found here.

“As the Trump administration continues its attacks against the LGBTQ community, more cases involving LGBTQ rights are expected to reach our nation’s highest court,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference. “With civil and human rights at stake, the Senate must demand the release and review of Kavanaugh’s full record. The American people deserve to know Kavanaugh’s involvement in the Bush administration’s anti-LGBTQ agenda.”

“We’ve made incredible strides on LGBTQ rights in recent years, and it’s easy now to take many of those rights for granted—but that would be a huge mistake,” said Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). “Brett Kavanaugh was handpicked off a list of far-right jurists who were vetted for their commitment to a very narrow view of justice, opportunity, and equality for all – a view that embraces a license to discriminate against our LGBTQ community members. Fundamental rights like marriage equality are hanging by a thread, and it’s up to the American people to push back and make their voices heard.”

“Brett Kavanaugh was handpicked by the anti-LGBTQ Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation. A Justice Kavanaugh would be a threat to people of color, women, and the LGBTQ community,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). “It’s time we raise our voices like never before and say no to Kavanaugh.”

“When Lambda Legal persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down state laws criminalizing sodomy in 2003, it freed us – we were no longer criminals just for being ourselves,” said Rachel B. Tiven, CEO of Lambda Legal. “But if the Trump-Pence administration succeeds in putting Brett Kavanaugh on the bench, the bedrock of LGBTQ rights will be under immediate siege. The question is not whether marriage equality can be overturned – it is much more likely, and more insidious that it will be slowly undermined by religious exemptions. This nomination puts Trump within striking distance of his goal of overturning Roe v. Wade and of turning back the clock on LGBT rights.”

“For the LGBTQ community, the urgency of our fight against Kavanaugh’s nomination is not abstract,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). “It is literally about millions of people having a right to live their lives free from discrimination and with access to affordable health care. For decades, anti-LGBTQ extremists have attempted to use our courts as an instrument of oppression against the LGBTQ community. Now, for the second time in two years, they have handpicked one of their own to sit on the nation’s highest court.”

“Before the ACA, merely being transgender was considering a pre-existing condition and cause for an insurer to turn you down for coverage,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). “Transgender people will never go back to being a pre-existing condition. We’re demanding the Senate refuse to confirm Judge Kavanaugh because no American should have to live in fear of having their coverage denied when they need it most.”

“Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh would tilt an already conservative court to the far right,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). “In the coming years, there are a number of new issues that will likely come before the court that could result in lasting harm for the LGBT community—including attempts to chip away at marriage equality or permit state agencies to discriminate against LGBT families in adoption and foster care. Our families and constitutional protections are at stake.”


About The Leadership Conference
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit

About Lambda Legal
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

About The Human Right Campaign
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

About The National Center for Transgender Equality
The National Center for Transgender Equality is a national social justice organization based in Washington, DC. NCTE is devoted to ending discrimination and violence against transgender people through education and advocacy on national issues of importance to transgender people.

About The National Center for Lesbian Rights
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.