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Miers Opposed Repeal Of Anti-Gay Texas Sodomy Law


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Miers Opposed Repeal Of Anti-Gay Texas Sodomy Law

by Paul Johnson 365Gay.com Washington Bureau Chief

Posted: October 4, 2005 12:01 am ET

(Washington) A document signed by Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers when she was a candidate for Dallas City Council in 1989 surfaced Monday night and is raising concerns among LGBT civil rights advocates.

In it Miers says she believes that gay men and lesbians should have the same civil rights as non gay men and women but would oppose repeal of the Texas sodomy law. The law was later struck down by the US supreme Court (story) The sixth vote in the split ruling was by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the judge Bush has nominated Miers to succeed.

Miers statements were made in response to a series of questions posed to all candidates for council by the Lesbian/Gay Coalition of Dallas. The coalition is no longer in existence. A copy of the questionnaire was provided to 365Gay.com Monday night by the Human Rights Campaign.

On HIV/AIDS issues Miers was asked if she believes the city has a responsibility to fund AIDS education and patient support services. She answered yes. Asked if she would support raising the ceiling on the amount the city spends she also said yes, adding a caveat that it would depend on the available money in the city budget.

When asked if she would support a nondiscrimination ordinance to protect minorities including gays Miers hedged, replying that she believed it was an issue for the Texas legislature.

The form also asked if she sought the group's endorsement and checked off a box indicating no, although she agreed to attend a candidate screening session. The form was signed by Miers on March 28, 1989.

At the time Miers, like most Texans was a Democrat. In 1988 she was a contributor to Al Gore's first presidential campaign but later became a Republican and staunch Bush supporter.

Louise Young, a founding member of the Lesbian/Gay Coalition said she thought it odd that someone who was not seeking the group's endorsement would bother coming to a screening session.

"Usually, if you bothered to come, you wanted our endorsement," Young said Monday night. "She came to talk to us anyway. I thought that was very odd."

Although the document is 16 years old it does provide an indication of Miers' mindset on LGBT issues.

"The questionnaire raises a lot of questions," Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese told 365Gay.com. "It heightens the need for Senators to be thorough and comprehensive in their questioning. This provides a road map of questioning for Senators."

"Its a very troubling document," Michael Adams, director of Education and Public Affairs at Lambda Legal told 365Gay.com.

"The fact is that Lambda Legal spent years trying to get rid of the Texas law so to see a statement from Harriet Miers supporting the law is troubling even if the statement is 16 years old. This certainly raises some specific questions and is going to add to the importance of her confirmation hearings."

On Monday, shortly after Bush announced Miers' nomination Lambda, HRC and other LGBT civil rights groups called for a full investigation of her positions as White House Counsel on gay issues, (story) including what advice she gave to the President on the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment that would ban same-sex marriage.

The mixed signals contained in the old questionnaire are more insightful than anything presented during John Roberts' nomination process for Chief Justice. Miers has never sat on the bench and does not have a judicial paper trail, but, Roberts who has been a judge has never ruled in an LGBT rights case.

Although Roberts provided pro bono legal advice on behalf of a gay group he has stated that as a lawyer it was his duty to advocate for a client whether or not he agreed with the client's position.

The White House refused to provide documents on what advice Roberts gave as a White House aide to either the first or second president Bush. It is expected the administration will refuse a similar request for documents concerning Miers.

Miers is 60 and has never married. If confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate she would join Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second woman on the nation's highest court and the third to serve there. Miers was the first woman to serve as president of the Texas State Bar and the Dallas Bar.

As president of the Texas State Bar in 1993, she was a leader in an effort to persuade the American Bar Association - the nation's largest lawyers' group - to reconsider its pro-abortion-rights stance.

©365Gay.com 2005


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