Many of President Trump’s judicial nominees have sought to ensure that LGBTQ people be considered dangerous and unworthy of equal protection under the law. But Texas district court nominee Jeff Mateer actually attended an infamous “kill the gays” conference back in 2015. Certainly that plus his attack on transgender kids as part of “Satan’s plan,” his support for the harmful practice of “conversion therapy,” and his assertion that marriage equality will lead to “people marrying their pets,” ought to prompt Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz to withdraw their support for the man they recommended to the White House.
Regarding the 2015 conference, Mateer cannot plausibly claim he had no idea what he was participating in. Conference organizer Kevin Swanson was already notorious for his horrifying comments in favor of killing gay people. As Right Wing Watch reported, Swanson had already:
- called homosexuality a “death penalty crime”;
- praised a Ugandan bill that would have made homosexuality a criminal offense punishable by the death penalty; and
- condemned attending a gay couple’s wedding unless you hold up a sign telling them they should be put to death.
Swanson invited speakers who had trafficked in grotesque propaganda against LGBTQ people, including some who shared his bloodlust. RWW reported in advance that speakers included:
- Phil Kayser, who advocated imposing the death penalty against offenders based on his reading of Biblical law; and
- Joel McDurmon, who in reference a Ugandan law to execute gays, stated in 2009 that “it definitely should be in place; homosexuality should receive the death penalty.” Shortly before the 2015 conference, he “apologized” for not making clear in 2009 that he only meant the death penalty for gays who commit “sodomy.”
It was hardly a secret that this conference was being organized and would be attended by speakers who supported the death penalty for gays.
And Jeff Mateer chose to participate.
Most people think that speaking at a conference whose organizer openly called for executing an entire group of innocent people would disqualify you from the federal judiciary. But so far, not Sens. Cornyn and Cruz.
In fact, even after Mateer’s conference attendance and his own virulently anti-LGBTQ comments became public, Cruz expressed his continuing support for the nomination. Perhaps that shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Cruz himself chose to take the stage there—though he later said his decision to attend was a “mistake.”
Cornyn has said he didn’t know about Mateer’s offensive statements, and that he was reserving judgment pending a review with his staff. In fact, the vice chairman of the commission that vets potential judges for the Texas senators says that Mateer failed to disclose them. So of course Cornyn would be surprised.
But he should also be offended at Mateer’s extremism and his apparent deception. Surely, we all hope, Sen. Cornyn will withdraw his support from a nominee who attended a kill-the-gays conference and who attacks transgender kids as part of Satan’s plan. Surely, we all hope, he will withdraw his support from a judicial nominee who failed to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
The idea of Jeff Mateer as a federal judge is truly frightening. That is why PFAW is running an ad exposing Mateer’s extremism and calling on voters to urge withdrawal of the nomination.