In a few short weeks, the nation will be watching closely as the U.S. Senate begins its confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who has been tapped by President Trump as the replacement for Justice Anthony Kennedy. If confirmed to the highest court in the land, Kavanaugh would be tasked with immediately deciding what our Constitution means and how it will affect the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Americans and their families.
That is why Colorado’s U.S. senators – Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner – should fulfill their Constitutional responsibility by rejecting efforts to rush this nomination process, and thoroughly and closely examine Kavanaugh’s record and stances to ensure that if confirmed, he will respect full equality for all people – including LGBTQ people – under the law.
June is Pride month for the LGBTQ community, and this past Pride month, the Supreme Court handed down a narrow ruling on the Masterpiece case that actually affirmed the need for LGBTQ protections under the law. In fact, Justice Kennedy wrote that “It is unexceptional that Colorado law can protect gay persons, just as it can protect other classes of individuals, in acquiring whatever products and services they choose on the same terms and conditions as are offered to other members of the public.”
I bring this up because in the coming years, the Supreme Court is likely to face a number of other cases that will have lasting impacts on LGBTQ freedom and equality. Examples could be a future case that raises the question if an LGBTQ employee can be fired based on the employer’s religious beliefs, or if a ban on the harmful, discredited practice of conversion therapy should stand. With these possible cases in mind, it is not hyperbole to say that basic rights and protections LGBTQ Coloradans and their families rely on are now at serious risk with this nomination — including the ability to adopt and foster children, protection from discrimination in employment, housing, and public spaces; and the ability to get health insurance, even if you have a pre-existing condition.
Coloradans believe that everyone should have the freedom to live their lives openly and with dignity. Equality is a Colorado value, which is why Sens. Bennet and Gardner owe it to Colorado to ask Kavanaugh tough questions on how he would rule on cases concerning LGBTQ equality. If it is found through a constitutional process of thorough vetting that Kavanaugh is hostile to civil rights and LGBTQ equality, then the truth is that he would not be a suitable replacement to Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court.
This nomination is about the values our nation and Constitution stand for — freedom, dignity, fairness and equal opportunity. While the challenge before us to make sure Brett Kavanaugh upholds these ideals seems enormous — and the stakes high — we the people have the power to demand and achieve a fair process and an acceptable nominee. If the protests and activism since the 2016 election have shown us anything, it is that our voices as a community do make a difference.
The Supreme Court represents the last line of defense for our country’s most cherished protections and the legacy of its rulings endure for generations, which means the stakes are too high for this process to be rushed or taken lightly. With that knowledge, I ask my fellow Coloradans to join me in calling on Bennet and Gardner to carefully examine Kavanaugh’s record and demand a commitment that as a Supreme Court justice, he will defend the freedom and dignity of all, including LGBTQ Coloradans and their families. Anything less is a disservice to the people of Colorado.
Daniel Ramos is executive director of One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization for LGBTQ Coloradans and their families.