THE BLOG
10/19/2016 08:21 am ET Updated Oct 20, 2017

Donald Trump's Long-Held Promise To Pick Rabidly Anti-LGBT Supreme Court Justices

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

In tonight's third and final presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in Las Vegas, moderated by Fox News's Chris Wallace, the Supreme Court is one issue we're told will be focused on.

Donald Trump, however, made his intentions quite clear at the last debate, and many times before: He will appoint justices to the high court "very much in the mold of Justice Scalia."

You can't hold up a better example of anti-LGBT extremism on the Supreme Court than Antonin Scalia, the most homophobic force ever on the court, who made hateful comments, on and office the court, about gay people for several decades.

The late Scalia had compared homosexuality to bestiality, incest and child pornography and believed that banning homosexuality was similar to banning murder. Scalia not only wrote a blistering, unhinged dissenting opinion in the historic marriage equality case in 2015, Orbergefell v. Hodges; he was virulently opposed to striking down sodomy laws, writing the dissenting opinion in the Lawrence v. Texas case in 2003, attacking the "law-profession culture" which he claimed had "signed on to the homosexual agenda."

It's pathetic, as I've pointed out again and again, that much of the mainstream media has portrayed Trump as "more accepting on gay issues" than other Republicans -- again grading him on a curve because he's not railing against gays like others have -- while he has forcefully advocated for Scalia-like justices on the court, producing a list of 20. Not only do many of the judges Trump has listed meet that standard, but he has specifically said he would put them on the court to possibly overturn marriage equality.

Back in January, Trump told none other than tonight's debate moderator, Wallace, that he was unhappy with the Obergefell ruling, which brought marriage equality to the entire nation. He'd rather it had been left "to the states," which of course allows for rampant discrimination.

It's interesting that Wallace, from his perch at Fox News and certainly not a champion of progressive values, has been the only journalist interested in getting answers from Trump on this issue, while reporters at publications like The New York Times and Washington Post have given him a pass again and again, even portraying him as better on LGBT rights. When pressed by Wallace about appointing justices to the Supreme Court who would overturn the Obergefell ruling Trump replied, "I would strongly consider that, yes."

It's difficult to imagine that ruling being overturned -- and the chaos that would ensue -- but simply by pandering to those who desire this action Trump is revealing the mortal danger he is to LGBT rights. If not on a marriage equality, there are a whole host of issues about which Trump can hold back or reverse LGBT rights, and many of the judges he's suggested he'd appoint would be primed to do so.

Hillary Clinton, at the last debate, countered Trump's promise of Scalia-like justices very clearly: "I want a Supreme Court that will stick with Roe v. Wade and the woman's right to choose, and I want a Supreme Court that will stick with marriage equality." She has called for a full and comprehensive LGBT anti-discrimination law. The Equality Act, which would protect LGBT people in housing, employment, public accommodations and other areas, would add LGBT people to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and was introduced in Congress last year. Clinton obviously believes such a law can and would be held constitutional. That is, unless a Supreme Court with justices "in the mold of Justice Scalia" are appointed to the court and are able to preempt such a law by ruling against LGBT people in a variety cases making their way to the high court.

Trump, back in February, two weeks after the Wallace interview, promised evangelicals, during an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, to "trust me" to overturn the "shocking" and "massive" Obergefell ruling. And that is something with which his anti-LGBT running mate Mike Pence surely agrees. What we need from Trump are fuller details about how he's going to get that done, or how he expects the judges he'd appoint to the court will thwart LGBT rights in other ways. Trump and Pence have both promised to defend "religious liberty" -- code for allowing Christian business owners, such as bakers and florists, to use their religious beliefs to discriminate against LGBT people in their businesses. So how does he expect that will happen?

Since Chris Wallace is the only interviewer who has pursued Trump on the issue, perhaps Wallace will continue to demand answers from Trump tonight. It's not something that only LGBT people deserve answers about; it's an issue that evangelicals, for whom Trump claims to be fighting, should have a clear picture about. And all Americans should see exactly what Trump believes -- beyond his empty calls to "protect" LGBT people from "foreign terrorism" -- when it comes to what many view as one of the most important civil rights issues of our time.