Evangelical About-Face on SCOTUS Nominee Sexuality

In the midst of the Supreme Court nominations last spring, Focus on the Family took a curious position. Jeff Sessions, a conservative southern Senator, claimed he would be open to a nominee with “gay tendencies.” The Evangelical powerhouse surprisingly agreed. Their judicial analyst told The Plum Line’s Greg Sargent that their verdict on the nominee would depend on “whether they are a good judge or not.” A judge’s sexual identity, he claimed, is “not even pertinent to the equation.”

Well, apparently that was a mistake. It is quite pertinent now.

As another seat on the high court opens up, the group has made an abrupt about-face. Tom Minnery, the organization’s Vice President of Public Policy, clamored to undo last year’s position, calling the conversation with Sargent one they would “like to ‘do over.’ ”

“We can assure you,” he said in released statement, “that we recognize that homosexual behavior is a sin and does not reflect God’s created intent and desire for humanity.” A homosexual nominee, Minnery continues, inherently lacks the “character” and “moral rectitude” necessary for the court.

With the imminent departure of Justice Stevens, this summer is likely to see a repeat of the contentious battle over Obama’s nominee. Abortion will undoubtedly be at the center. Although is usually peripheral to the Court, sexual identity could be a divisive issue with the potential for the first ever openly gay Justice. One Republican Senator offered wavering support for the possibility yesterday. But the firm stance of groups from their conservative Christian base may enable politicians to come out against the prospect of a GLBT nominee.

In today’s statement, Focus on the Family unleashed stringent, Dobson-era language that seems to counter their recent savvier, stealth evangelism. “Sexual behavior,” Minnery concludes, “be it heterosexual or homosexual–certainly lies at the heart of personal morality.”

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