Illinois LGBTQ orgs react to Coney Barrett confirmation

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Amy Coney Barrett (Photo used under Creative Commons)

SPRINGFIELD — LGBTQ organizations in Illinois and across the country had strong opinions about the confirmation Amy Coney Barrett on Monday night.

Coney Barrett was sworn in as associate justice to the U.S. Supreme Court just one week before the presidential election and after tens of millions of people had already voted. The Hill reported that she was sworn in by right-wing justice Clarence Thomas.

“A very dangerous thing happened last night with the confirmation of Amy Coney-Barrett,” said Tara Bell, board chair with Carbondale’s Rainbow Cafe LGBTQ Youth Center. “Senate Republicans chose to ignore the precedence they themselves have set by pushing through a new justice with a history of anti-LGBTQ, anti-woman, anti-healthcare, and anti-immigration beliefs in order to pack the supreme court with a 6-3 ratio of conservative justices. This is a very dangerous moment in history for our community, with marriage rights and reproductive rights at stake. The confirmation of Coney-Barrett dishonors the legacy of her predecessor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”

“In 2015, the US Supreme Court officially recognized marriage equality as a right for same sex couples,” said Dave Bentlin, board president at the Prairie Pride Coalition in Bloomington. “Five years later and two of the justices who spoke most eloquently in favor of marriage equality are gone, replaced by justices who feel quite differently. That shift, combined with a recent blistering criticism of the 2015 decision from sitting justices Thomas and Alito, has produced fear, anxiety, and anger among the LGBTQIA+ community.”

Bentlin said it looked like the community was going in an era where previous victories would be challenged. “The work of securing civil liberties is never done; we must always remain vigilant to not only gain our equality but also to preserve it.”

Equality Illinois CEO Brian Johnson called the confirmation a threat to American democracy, saying her new position put the rights of LGBTQ people and women in jeopardy.

“The manner & timing in which she was nominated and confirmed demonstrated a complete lack of respect for the institution of the Senate and the will of the American people,” Johnson said. “But despite the severity of this threat, no one person can completely eradicate the gains we have won nor eliminate the support of millions of LGBTQ allies. At Equality Illinois, we will work hard to continue to inspire LGBTQ people and our allies to participate in the democratic process: to vote, to support pro-equality candidates up and down the ballot, and to run for public office themselves.”

“This is a dark day for our justice system and American democracy,” Lambda Legal CEO Kevin Jennings said in a statement. “The Supreme Court of the United States, the court of last resort for justice in our country, should not be up for a power grab, but that is exactly what happened today. Amy Coney Barrett deeply alarmed us during her confirmation hearings when she refused to say whether she believed cases that are the backbone of the legal rights of LGBTQ people—such as Lambda Legal’s landmark case, Lawrence v. Texas, which decriminalized same-sex intimacy, and Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage—were correctly decided. We fear that all the progress we have made in recent years is now at risk.”

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