Hillary Clinton has claimed that Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump would roll back equal marriage via the Supreme Court.
Mr Trump previously declared opposition to same-sex marriage a “dead issue”, but earlier this year he told evangelicals he would “consider” a push to overturn it by appointing new ultra-conservative Supreme Court justices.
Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton warned about the issue in last night’s Presidential debate – the first time LGBT issues have been mentioned in this year’s debates.
She warned: “I would like the Supreme Court to understand that voting rights are still a big problem in many parts of our country, that we don’t always do everything we can to make it possible for people of colour and older people and young people to be able to exercise their franchise.
“I want a Supreme Court that will stick with Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose, and I want a Supreme Court that will stick with marriage equality.
“Now, Donald has put forth the names of some people that he would consider. And among the ones that he has suggested are people who would reverse Roe v. Wade and reverse marriage equality. I think that would be a terrible mistake and would take us backwards.”
Mr Trump did not deny that his nominated judges would seek to turn back equality.
Instead he confirmed that he would appoint justices in the mould of the late Antonin Scalia, who penned a blistering dissent against the Obergefell equal marriage ruling.
He said: “Justice Scalia, great judge, died recently. And we have a vacancy. I am looking to appoint judges very much in the mould of Justice Scalia.
“I’m looking for judges — and I’ve actually picked 20 of them so that people would see, highly respected, highly thought of, and actually very beautifully reviewed by just about everybody. But people that will respect the Constitution of the United States.
“I think that this is so important.”
RightWingWatch recently reported that nearly every Supreme Court candidate mooted by Trump is an extreme anti-LGBT conservative.
The billionaire has made a string of concessions to evangelicals during his campaign.
As He recently came out in favour of North Carolina’s anti-trans law, and confirmed he would sign a Republican-backed bill to directly permit religious homophobic discrimination.
Last month, Trump confirmed he would sign the so-called First Amendment Defence Act, which bans the government from taking any “action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognised as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”
The broadly written law would effectively legalise all discrimination against LGBT people in all sectors – from employment to retail to healthcare – as long as the person discriminating claims it was due to their religion.
Trump said in a statement: “Religious liberty is enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution.
“It is our first liberty and provides the most important protection in that it protects our right of conscience. Activist judges and executive orders issued by Presidents who have no regard for the Constitution have put these protections in jeopardy.
“If I am elected president and Congress passes the First Amendment Defense Act, I will sign it to protect the deeply held religious beliefs of Catholics and the beliefs of Americans of all faiths.”
His running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence. has one of the worst records on LGBT rights of any candidate on a major party’s Presidential ticket in recent times.
A hardline evangelical, the Governor stirred up international outrage last year when he signed Indiana’s controversial ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act’, which gave businesses the right to discriminate against gay people on the grounds of religion.
Governor Pence previously suggested that HIV prevention funding be drained in order to fund state-sponsored ‘gay cure’ therapy, and earlier this year appeared unable to answer when asked whether it should be legal to fire people because of their sexuality.
An investigation last month found that Pence approved extreme anti-LGBT articles when he was the head of the Indiana Policy Review journal in the 1990s.
In an item published under his editorial tenure in the December 1993 issue, Pence’s journal criticised The Wall Street Journal for taking part in a job fair for gay journalists – suggesting that “gaydom” was a “pathological condition”, and arguing that gay journalists would be biased in their coverage because of their sexuality.
It claimed: “The more extreme of the gay movement consider themselves members of a sexual determined political party.”
Another edition published in 1993 attacked Bill Clinton for reforms to permit closeted gay people to serve in the army.
It claimed: “Homosexuals are not as a group able bodied. They are known to carry extremely high rates of disease brought on because of the nature of their sexual practices and the promiscuity which is a hallmark of their lifestyle.”