Jeff Mateer, one of Donald Trump’s latest nominees for the federal judiciary, has called transgender children part of “Satan’s plan,” supported so-called conversion therapy, and said marriage equality will lead to polygamy, bestiality, and people marrying inanimate objects, a CNN investigation has found.
Mateer made the remarks during speeches in 2015, documented in video and audio recordings reviewed by CNN’s KFile investigative team, the news channel reported today. Trump announced September 7 that he was nominating Mateer to be a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, making Mateer the latest in a string of far-right judicial nominees. He is currently Texas’s first assistant attorney general and previously worked for First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit law firm focusing on religious liberty, primarily as perceived by the religious right.
In May 2015, speaking on “The Church and Homosexuality,” Mateer discussed the case of a transgender first-grader whose parents sued her school for not allowing her access to the girls’ restroom. “I submit to you, a parent of three children who are now young adults, a first-grader really knows what their sexual identity [is]?” he said in the speech, video of which was posted on Vimeo (watch below). “I mean, it just really shows you how Satan’s plan is working and the destruction that’s going on.”
Later in the same speech, he said that legalizing same-sex marriage (which the U.S. Supreme Court did on a national basis two months later) would take the nation down a slippery slope to recognizing other “disgusting” types of unions. “Have you ever heard the word ‘throuple’?’” he said. “’Throuple,’ so that’s three people coming together of different sexes, maybe mixed sexes. Them coming together. There are people who marry themselves. Somebody wanted to marry a tree. People marrying their pets. It’s just like — you know, you read the New Testament and you read about all the things and you think, Oh, that’s not going on in our community. Oh, yes it is. We’re back to that time where debauchery rules.”
In November of that year, Mateer spoke at anti-LGBT minister Kevin Swanson’s National Religious Liberties Conference in Des Moines, an event infamously attended by Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal as they sought the Republican presidential nomination. There, Mateer condemned efforts to outlaw the use of “ex-gay” therapy on minors.
“Biblical counselors and therapists, we've seen cases in New Jersey and in California where folks have gotten in trouble because they gave biblical counseling and, you know, the issue is always, it’s same sex,” he said in audio obtained by KFile (listen below). “And if you're giving conversion therapy, that’s been outlawed in at least two states and then in some local areas. So they’re invading that area.” Now at least nine states and several cities have banned use of the discredited and harmful practice on minors by state-licensed therapists — although many faith-based counselors are not licensed and therefore exempt.
Mateer’s anti-LGBT record goes beyond his speeches. First Liberty Institute, known before 2016 as Liberty Institute, has represented many anti-LGBT clients and tried to force the repeal of an LGBT-inclusive civil rights ordinance in Plano, Texas, the Dallas suburb where it is based.
LGBT rights groups condemned the nomination of Mateer, who like all federal jusge nominees is subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
"The nomination of Jeff Mateer is the Trump administration’s latest slap in the face with respect to the LGBT community. It’s also another example of this administration’s brazen crusade to stack our courts with extremists dedicated to dismantling rights and protections for the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in the country," said Sharon McGowan, Lambda Legal's director of strategy, in a press release. “Unfortunately, the nomination of someone with Mateer’s explicitly homophobic and transphobic record can no longer be described as shocking —rather, it’s part of a larger pattern of actions by this administration that seek to turn back the clock with respect to the progress that this country has made on issues of LGBT equality. Lambda Legal is committed to defending LGBT people from every attack by this administration, including its attempt to seize control of the federal courts for generations to come. We will work alongside our allies on Capitol Hill and sound the alarm across the country to ensure Americans know the dangers of these nominations.”
The National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders issued a joint press release denouncing the nominee. “These comments made by a Trump nominee reflect hostility toward transgender people that is deeply disturbing,” said NCLR legal director Shannon Minter. “There is no room for this sort of vitriol in our public discourse. Our government must stand for inclusion and fairness for all, and we will speak out against efforts to turn back the clock on equality.”
“It's concerning that the Trump administration is trying to infuse its anti-transgender ideology into our judicial system,” said GLAD Transgender Rights Project director Jennifer Levi. “Our courts must serve as a backstop to President Trump’s divisive and exclusionary policies, not promote discrimination. Courts must treat all Americans fairly and promote equal rights.”
All three groups are involved in lawsuits against Trump’s reinstatement of the ban on transgender people on the military.
Opposition to Mateer's nomination is coming from other progressive organizations as well. The Alliance for Justice, which has opposed or raised concerns about several of Trump's judicial nominees, issued this statement from its president, Nan Aron: "These remarks by Jeff Mateer are among the most disgusting ever made by a federal judicial nominee, and the White House should withdraw Mateer's nomination immediately. We are already seeing a well-documented pattern of anti-LGBTQ bias emerging among President Trump's judicial nominees, most notably John Bush and Damien Schiff. The Senate's confirmation of Bush despite his history of bigoted remarks stands as a shameful day in its history, and there is no excuse for either the Senate or this administration to advance another nominee who has shown such hostility and hatred toward millions of Americans."