No one would ever accuse Donald Trump of nominating pro-LGBTQ judicial candidates, but one of his latest picks—for Utah’s federal district court—still stands out.
A report by Alliance for Justice found that Howard Nielson was representing the plaintiffs in Hollingsworth v. Perry, a 2013 case that would have banned same-sex marriage in California. As the case played out, Nielson filed a motion saying chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Vaughn Walker “had a duty to disclose not only the facts concerning his [same-sex] relationship, but also his marriage intentions.”
According to the organization, Nielson said it was “extremely problematic that Judge Walker is a practicing homosexual himself.”
Since the case was about same-sex marriage, Nielson argued that Walker, a Ronald Reagan appointee, could not be unbiased unless he did not intend to marry another man. He wrote that only if Walker had “unequivocally disavowed any interest in marrying his partner could the parties and the public be confident that he did not have a direct personal interest in the outcome," the Alliance cited.
The motion was rejected by another judge, but Nielson continued his tirade against the LGBT community by arguing that sexual orientation is a choice, opposing the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
Lambda Legal has found that at least a third of Trump’s judicial nominees have a demonstrated anti-LGBTQ bias.
Nearly one-in-three have records that demonstrate hostility towards the rights of LGBT people. While several of these nominees are anti-LGBT activists who have openly denigrated LGBT people and families, others have more quietly undermined LGBT rights and protections.