Guest Author - Jason P. Ruel
Want to be a Federal Judge? Make sure you don’t perform, or preside over a Lesbian’s Wedding.
Michigan court of appeals judge Janet T. Neff has supposedly presided over the wedding of a Lesbian couple in Massachusetts in 2002. And because of this, a Republican Senator, Sam Brownback of Kansas, wants to make sure she doesn’t make it to the bench. Why should it matter to this staunch homophobe, anti-gay Senator who performed the commitment ceremony for a lesbian couple? Well, it’s because he wants to know whether there was anything illegal or improper about the ceremony. Of course there was something wrong. He wasn’t invited!
As if that wasn’t enough, he wants to know where she stands on Gay issues and Gay Marriage, and how performing this wedding might shape how she is going to rule. ''It seems to speak about her view of judicial activism,'' Brownback said. ''That's something I want to inquire of her further.'' Judicial activism? How about sticking up for the little guy. The guy that Senator Brownback despises… those homosexuals!
Why should this all matter? The full Senate is considering her nomination, which is being held up by Brownback, and it should be noted that her nomination was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. They saw nothing wrong with this judge. They didn’t question her ethics because of a simple performance of a ceremony to honor two people who were pledging their life and love for each other to family and friends. However, this anti-gay, homophobic Senator does. Unfortunately, any senator can block a nominee from moving forward by putting a “hold” on them, which Brownback has done to Neff.
Why should he be concerned when others were not? Because a group of “Republican activists in Michigan expressed concerns about Neff after seeing her name in a September 2002 New York Times 'Weddings/Celebrations' announcement.” The NYT announcement showed that Neff led the commitment ceremony for Karen Adelman and Mary Curtin. It was also noted, however, that Neff presided over the event with a United Church of Christ minister, the Reverend Kelly A. Gallagher. It should be noted that the UCC does not discriminate against GLBT persons and blesses commitment ceremonies/weddings/civil unions. The UCC has also called for equal marriage representation for GLBT’s.
In defending his actions, Brownback stated ''I don't know what she did,'' and continued with ''That's why there's a factual question.'' This was his justification due to the occurrences of elected officials issuing marriage licenses to GLBT persons and challenging marriage laws. However, Democratic senator Carl Levin of Michigan didn’t see anything illegal about what Neff did. ''There's no reason why two people can't stand up and exchange commitments with each other provided they don't do anything illegal,'' Levin said.
In the end, what matters? I’d say not resting on your laurels. Stand up for what you believe in even if it means that a homophobic person tries to slap you down for it!
BellaOnline's Gay Lesbian Editor