John Ashcroft is Not Qualified to Be Attorney General

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Lambda says nominee would base law on prejudice and propaganda

Date

Date: 
01/12/2001







(NEW YORK, January 12, 2001) — The nation’s largest and oldest legal organization dedicated to gay civil rights issued a statement Friday opposing John Ashcroft’s nomination as United States Attorney General, pointing to the former Missouri senator’s record of bias against lesbians and gay men and the equality of many other Americans.

“Because of his record of bias against gay men and lesbians, and because of his disturbing and extreme positions in opposition to the rights and equality of many other Americans as well, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund calls upon the Senate to reject this troubling nomination,” said Lambda Executive Director Kevin M. Cathcart.

“Lambda’s opposition is not merely a matter of disagreement with this nominee along the spectrum of legally permitted policy options, but rather stems from Ashcroft’s showing that he does not agree with core American tenets that must be enforced – not undermined – by the Attorney General,” he said.

In a detailed statement about Ashcroft’s record disparaging lesbian and gay Americans and basic civil rights protections, Lambda noted five significant ways he was disqualified, in particular the stigmatizing and false characterizations Ashcroft has made of gay people.

“Key among his disqualifiers is his often expressed view that homosexuality is ‘abnormal’ and ‘a condition from which relief should be sought and not a condition that should be fostered by the society.’ Dismissing the unanimous expert judgment of every major U.S. medical and mental health professional organization, Ashcroft instead toes the line of fringe anti-gay organizations, declaring, ‘I do know that there are thousands of former homosexuals, individuals who once were engaged in a homosexual lifestyle, who have changed that lifestyle and have repudiated it and find themselves to be engaged in heterosexual lifestyles.’ A nominee who willfully rejects scientific evidence and seeks to base policy and law on prejudice or propaganda is unfit to serve as Attorney General,” Lambda said.

Further disqualifiers for Ashcroft include:


  • the view that civil rights protections are ‘special rights’ that should not be granted to groups that are targets of discrimination;
  • actions that reflect the position that a gay sexual orientation disqualifies an individual from government service;
  • an activist stance that seeks to break down the constitutionally required barriers between church and state;
  • a singular identification with one particular political faction that has a social policy agenda incompatible with the unique responsibilities of the Attorney General.
“Former Senator John Ashcroft’s own words and deeds manifest each of these disqualifying factors of particular concern to Lambda, and demonstrate similar disregard for the constitutional rights and equality of women and people of color. He is unqualified to hold the vast power of the Attorney General, whose role includes serving as a guarantor – not an opponent – of this country’s commitment to the civil rights and equality of all,” Lambda’s statement continues.

“Because we are all entitled to an Attorney General committed to ‘equal justice under law’ for all Americans, Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund calls upon the Senate to reject this extreme, biased, and unqualified nominee,” the statement concludes.


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