Matthew Kacsmaryk, who has endorsed the view that being transgender is a “delusion” and referred to the Equality Act as the “inequality act,” was confirmed by the U.S. Senate today to be a federal district judge for the Northern District of Texas.
Kacsmaryk was confirmed to the lifetime appointment by a vote of 52-46, with Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine joining united Democrats in voting against him, the Washington Blade reports. Collins, often considered a moderate, drew criticism for her vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court last year, but she said she would oppose Kacsmaryk for his stances against LGBTQ and reproductive rights.
LGBTQ groups and other civil rights organizations denounced his confirmation. Matthew Kacsmaryk is among the most anti-LGBTQ judicial nominees put forward by the Trump-Pence administration,” said a statement issued by Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “He has a long history of virulently anti-LGBTQ opinions and positions — including his deeply disturbing opposition to same-sex marriage, his vocal hostility towards legal protections for gender identity and sexual orientation, and his shocking refusal to recognize the basic humanity of transgender people. Kacsmaryk fails the basic expectation of impartiality and commitment to equality under the law that we demand of every member of the bench. The Human Rights Campaign will continue to raise the alarm about Kacsmaryk and future nominees who refuse to protect the rights of all Americans.”
“Matthew Kacsmaryk’s confirmation is going to cause suffering to millions of people in Texas, including many vulnerable individuals,” added Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron. “Kacsmaryk harbors strong hostility to LGBTQ people and to women’s rights. Now, not only will he have the opportunity to curtail equal rights for millions within these communities, but individual women and LGBTQ people who come into his courtroom seeking justice will have to face a judge who has expressed contempt for them. As a judge, Matthew Kacsmaryk is going to ruin lives, and there is no way to minimize that very sad fact.”
In addition to his remarks about the Equality Act and signing on to a letter that called being transgender is a “delusion,” Kacsmaryk has opposed marriage equality and the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage mandate, among other far-right positions.
Kacsmaryk is currently deputy general counsel at First Liberty Institute, a legal nonprofit based in Plano, Texas, that focuses on “religious liberty” cases, which at First Liberty generally means opposing LGBTQ and reproductive rights. He has represented the Oregon bakery, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, that refused to provide a wedding cake for a same-sex couple and was sued for discrimination. After an Oregon administrative agency and state courts held that the bakery indeed violated the state’s antidiscrimination law, Sweet Cakes appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which Monday sent the case back to the state courts for reconsideration. He also filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a similar case, supporting Masterpiece Cakeshop’s right to deny service to customers based on religious objections.
He has filed briefs opposing LGBTQ rights in several other cases, including the Obergefell v. Hodges case that resulted in the Supreme Court decision for nationwide marriage equality and transgender student Gavin Grimm’s case seeking access to the boys’ restroom at his school in Virginia. And he supported Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who refused to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her religious beliefs. He has further frequently voiced opposition to reproductive freedom, arguing for pharmacists’ right to deny emergency contraception to customers and against the ACA’s contraceptive mandate. He has objected to another provision of the ACA — the one that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The sexual revolution, Kacsmaryk wrote in a 2015 article for a conservative journal called Public Discourse, “sought public affirmation of the lie that the human person is an autonomous blob of Silly Putty unconstrained by nature or biology, and that marriage, sexuality, gender identity, and even the unborn child must yield to the erotic desires of liberated adults.”
A similar federal judicial nominee associated with First Liberty, Jeff Mateer, was withdrawn from consideration; among other things, Mateer had said transgender children come from Satan. But Kacsmaryk is “Jeff Mateer’s doppelganger,” Sharon McGowan, legal director and chief strategy officer for Lambda Legal, said on a Tuesday conference call with reporters, on which activists and lawmakers called for the Senate to reject Kacsmaryk.
“In case after case, he has taken positions that are abhorrent,” Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said on the conference call. Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts added, “We cannot let bigotry and hate gain a lifetime appointment to our judicial system.” And 75 human rights groups, led by Lambda Legal, signed on to a letter opposing Kacsmaryk’s confirmation. But the Republican-majority Senate confirmed him to the court nonetheless.