Barack Obama has been urged to replace ultra-conservative Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia with the court’s first LGBT justice.
Ultra-conservative Justice Scalia, who was a strong opponent of gay rights, passed away earlier this month from a suspected heart attack.
Across his long career, the justice has dissented against LGBT equality on nearly every issue – from the court decision throwing out sodomy laws, to the one bringing equal marriage. He also openly compared the rights of gay people to paedophiles and incestuous couples, and was known for his blistering dissents.
President Obama is currently considering candidates to replace him, though Republicans insist it should be a job for the next President.
In a blog for the Advocate, HRC President Chad Griffin urged Obama to replace the anti-gay justice… with a gay one.
He wrote: “President Obama has nominated 10 openly LGBT federal judges during his presidency, and he has appointed hundreds of LGBT officials to various significant posts within his Administration.
“These individuals have added their talents, abilities, and unique experiences to countless decisions and actions, both large and small, that have helped shape the impact his Administration has had on LGBT people in our country.
“I believe it’s now time for President Obama to build on this progress and make history by nominating a highly qualified, openly LGBT Supreme Court justice.
“To have a representative on our nation’s highest court would send a powerful message to the millions of LGBT people who have struggled for recognition — and respect — for many decades.”
He added: “There is no question that cases that directly impact the rights of LGBT people will be considered by the Court in the coming years, and LGBT Americans deserve a voice on the bench that can speak personally and authentically about their own experiences facing discrimination in their schools, churches and communities.
Noting that many of the decisions in favour of equality have been settled 5-4, he added: “There remain countless elected officials and politicians across the country who remain fully committed to overturning Obergefell and stripping away our marriage rights, not to mention our basic dignity.
“These dissenters would rather adhere to their own anti-LGBT biases than accept and respect the law confirmed by the highest court in the land.
He continued: “Despite the overwhelming support for full LGBT equality, millions in our community are still at risk of discrimination and violence in their daily lives all across the country.
“It is time for an openly LGBT justice on our Supreme Court who will both affirm and symbolize our country’s commitment to full legal equality for its LGBT citizens.”