Some have criticized Barney Frank for his interview in which called Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a homophobe. In contrast, I applaud Frank's comments that should help expose a very serious problem in the judicial system today: namely, bigoted, homophobic judges who instead of applying the law impartially take out their personal animosity towards gays on LGBT litigants appearing in their courts.
The bigotry can range from far harsher treatment in divorce cases where one spouse comes out of the closet to allowing those who have used violence against gays to use bogus defenses like the "gay panic" defense. These judges truly need to be removed from the bench if they cannot leave their own religious based bigotry outside the courtroom.
As I have indicated before, in my opinion, LGBT rights organizations need to do far more to challenge homophobic judges either through the election process or by lobbying legislative committees in states where judges are appointed by the legislature. Having practiced law now for nearly 32 years, I have very limited faith that most LGBT citizens receive equal treatment in many of the the nation's courts.
Here are some highlights from a Los Angeles Times editorial on this issue:
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has been widely criticized for referring in a recent interview to "that homophobe Antonin Scalia," an injudicious exercise in name-calling that obscures Frank's larger and more valid point: that the opinions of the tart-tongued Supreme Court justice leave little doubt of his utter lack of sympathy for gays and lesbians.
Frank thinks there is more to Scalia's attitude than pure constitutional scruples. The language of the justice's opinions, he said, "makes it very clear that he's angry, frankly, about the existence of gay people." While anger is hard to prove, the opinions certainly show that Scalia has little enthusiasm for expanding gay rights.
Responding to the idea that the Colorado amendment [in Romer v. Colorado]reflected an "animus" toward gays, Scalia wrote: "I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible -- murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals -- and could exhibit even 'animus' toward such conduct."
In 2003, the court struck down a Texas law [in Lawrence v. Texas] criminalizing same-sex sodomy. In his dissent, Scalia noted that the court "has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct." . . . How Scalia feels about gays and lesbians is not just an academic question.
In a nation where there is supposedly the right to freedom of religion, it is a travesty that homophobes like Scalia - and many other judges - dispense justice under the civil laws based solely on their own personal religious beliefs and make a mockery of the Constitution.