President Donald Trump announced conservative judge Neil Gorsuch as his nomination for the Supreme Court yesterday.
The 49-year-old Colorado appeals court judge was described by Trump as having “outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind” and “tremendous discipline”, but the pick has a number of LGBT+ advocacy groups deeply concerned.
“Neil Gorsuch’s harmful history of discrimination against the LGBTQ community renders him completely unfit to sit on the highest court in the land,” says Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President & CEO.
“He has record of advocating for anti-LGBTQ rhetoric or supporting candidates that are in favour of open discrimination against people and families who simply want to be treated the same as everyone else,” says Ellis.
In 2015, Gorsuch joined a ruling that denied a trans woman to access Hormone Replacement Therapy while in prison. He also notably sided with Christian groups who opposed Obama’s contraception mandate under the Affordable Care Act.
Civil rights organisation Equality California has also issued a statement opposing the nomination.
"Judge Gorsuch gained national attention for his opinions in two federal cases supporting an employer’s right to refuse to pay for contraception as part of employee health coverage if doing so violates the employer’s religious beliefs.
“That bodes ill for LGBT people who are facing an onslaught of laws sanctioning discrimination in the name of religious liberty," says Equality California executive director, Rick Zbur.
Gorsuch’s nomination must now be approved by the US Senate.
There’s been a vacancy on the Supreme Court bench for nearly a year since the death of former Justice Antonin Scalia.
Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland as his pick in March 2016 but Republican senators refused to even consider the choice, saying the next president should fill the vacancy.