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Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley (pictured, left) is defending Barbara Lenk (right), a lesbian nominee to the state's supreme court, against accusations that Lenk supports "homosexual incest," The Boston Globereports.
Lenk, currently a justice on the Massachusetts appeals court, joined in a 2000 ruling by that court that the state's incest law prohibited only heterosexual intercourse between family members, not any other type of sexual contact, including that involving people of the same sex. As a result of the ruling, the state legislature changed the law.
Some opponents of Lenk's appointment to the Massachusetts supreme judicial court have brought up this ruling and others regarding the old law to characterize the justice as a supporter of same-sex incest. But Lenk was merely interpreting the law as it was written, Coakley noted in a letter to the Governor's Council, the panel that confirms the state's judicial appointments and is expected to vote on Lenk's confirmation Wednesday. It is "laughable" and "misleading" to suggest that Lenk endorses incestuous relationships, Coakley wrote.
Lenk, nominated to the high court by Gov. Deval Patrick, would be the first openly gay or lesbian member of that body. But even though Massachusetts, as the first state to have marriage equality, has often been in the forefront on LGBT rights, Lenk's road to confirmation has been rough. A member of the Governor's Council questioned whether Lenk notified other appeals court justices about a potential conflict of interest when her wife, attorney Debra S. Krupp, appeared before the court, and some criticized Patrick for mentioning Lenk's sexual orientation when he announced her nomination.
Recently two Boston Herald columnists offered competing views on Lenk's confirmation process. Margery Eagan remarked that some Lenk opponents appearing at a confirmation hearing "seemed unhinged," while Howie Carr asserted that support for the justice demonstrates that "political correctness trumps all." Read Eagan's full column here and Carr's here.