27 LGBTQ Rights Groups Urge The Senate To Reject Two Of Trump's Judicial Picks

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Jennifer Bendery
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(Photo: MLADEN ANTONOV via Getty Images)
(Photo: MLADEN ANTONOV via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON ― A whopping 27 LGBTQ rights groups on Monday urged the Senate to reject two of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, John Bush and Damien Schiff.

In a letter to all senators, groups including Lambda Legal and the Human Rights Campaign say both nominees’ views on civil rights “are fundamentally at odds with the notion that LGBT people are entitled to equality, liberty, justice and dignity under the law.”

Bush, a Kentucky lawyer up for a lifetime seat on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, has applauded critics of same-sex marriage and compared abortion to slavery, calling them “the two greatest tragedies in our country.” Schiff, an attorney up for a 15-year seat on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, has said LGBTQ anti-bullying efforts are akin to “teaching ‘gayness’ in schools,” and argued that states should be allowed to criminalize “consensual sodomy.”

“Although neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Schiff has any judicial experience, their public statements and writings have repeatedly demonstrated not only an extraordinary lack of judgment but also plain contempt for the rights of LGBT Americans, people living with HIV, women, and other vulnerable populations,” reads the letter, which goes into specifics on each count.

Here’s the full letter, spearheaded by Lambda Legal:

A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

Bush and Schiff both cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee last week along party lines. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has set up a confirmation vote for Bush on Wednesday. Schiff is waiting for his vote to be scheduled.

Progressives have been trying to sink the nominees for weeks. It’s an uphill battle since Republicans control the Senate, but if they can sway all Democrats and three Republicans to oppose them, it would kill their nominations. A couple of GOP senators support abortion rights, and moderates may have issues with some of the nominees’ other past remarks.

Even conservative Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, said that some of Bush’s past comments “were both extremely political in nature and showed a lack of, in my view, judicial temperament.” (He voted Bush out of committee anyway.)

Bush’s and Schiff’s nominations are just a starting point for Trump, who is incredibly well-positioned to remake the nation’s federal courts. He inherited more than a 100 judicial vacancies when he became president, thanks to Republicans refusing to fill those seats under President Barack Obama, and he has a GOP-led Senate eager to confirm whoever he wants.

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The Los Angeles LGBT Center

“All students deserve the dignity of being free from harassment and discrimination, including use of the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identities. Refusing to protect our most vulnerable youth is deplorable and dangerous. This is another clear signal of the Trump administration’s intent to rollback protections for LGBT people." -- <i><a href="https://lalgbtcenter.org/" target="_blank">Los Angeles LGBT Center </a>Director of Public Policy And Community Building Dave Garcia</i>
“All students deserve the dignity of being free from harassment and discrimination, including use of the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identities. Refusing to protect our most vulnerable youth is deplorable and dangerous. This is another clear signal of the Trump administration’s intent to rollback protections for LGBT people." -- Los Angeles LGBT Center Director of Public Policy And Community Building Dave Garcia

GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)

“The withdrawal of this guidance is a devastating step back for transgender students, who today are receiving the message that the federal government will not vigorously defend their right to an education. This unfortunate reversal of protections reflects crass, unprincipled political pandering. The American people support fairness and equal treatment of all students and do not think vulnerable young people should be made pawns of a political drama being played out by the current administration." -- <i><a href="https://www.glad.org/" target="_blank">GLAD</a>'s Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer L. Levi</i>
“The withdrawal of this guidance is a devastating step back for transgender students, who today are receiving the message that the federal government will not vigorously defend their right to an education. This unfortunate reversal of protections reflects crass, unprincipled political pandering. The American people support fairness and equal treatment of all students and do not think vulnerable young people should be made pawns of a political drama being played out by the current administration." -- GLAD's Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer L. Levi

GLAAD

“Transgender youth face extremely high rates of discrimination and bullying. By rescinding the Department of Education guidance recommending trans students be treated equally under Title IX, the administration is sending an alarming message that it will no longer defend their rights. While this action does not and cannot take away any rights trans students currently have, it undermines the progress we have made towards equality and acceptance.” -- <i><a href="http://www.glaad.org/blog/trump-administration-sends-dangerous-message-transgender-students" target="_blank">GLAAD</a> President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis</i>
“Transgender youth face extremely high rates of discrimination and bullying. By rescinding the Department of Education guidance recommending trans students be treated equally under Title IX, the administration is sending an alarming message that it will no longer defend their rights. While this action does not and cannot take away any rights trans students currently have, it undermines the progress we have made towards equality and acceptance.” -- GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis

GLSEN

"While the Trump a<a></a>dministration may abandon transgender students, GLSEN won’t. And neither will the thousands of teachers, administrators and parents around the country who work with GLSEN and our local chapters to ensure that transgender students everywhere have the opportunity to simply be themselves and live better lives. Schools, leaders and teachers must do the right thing and give <i>all </i>students the chance in life they deserve." -- <i>Dr. Eliza Byard, <a href="http://www.glsen.org/article/glsen-statement-reversal-title-ix-guidance-accommodating-transgender-students" target="_blank">GLSEN</a> Executive Director</i>
"While the Trump administration may abandon transgender students, GLSEN won’t. And neither will the thousands of teachers, administrators and parents around the country who work with GLSEN and our local chapters to ensure that transgender students everywhere have the opportunity to simply be themselves and live better lives. Schools, leaders and teachers must do the right thing and give all students the chance in life they deserve." -- Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN Executive Director

Physicians for Reproductive Health

“As an organization that cares deeply about adolescent health, we think it’s unacceptable to reverse a guidance that is meant to protect children who already face significant challenges to their well-being. Transgender children are often rejected by their family and peers, harassed, traumatized and abused, and are at a higher risk for depression and suicide. Discouraging or punishing children for expressing their true sense of identity threatens their health and well-being, and schools have a special responsibility to protect all young people, regardless of gender identity or expression." -- <i>Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper, Reproductive Health Advocacy Fellow at <a href="http://prh.org/" target="_blank" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&q=http://prh.org&source=gmail&ust=1487909251871000&usg=AFQjCNHTij0EG0HckZyxOaezQjym6tgo-A">Physicians for Reproductive Health</a></i>
“As an organization that cares deeply about adolescent health, we think it’s unacceptable to reverse a guidance that is meant to protect children who already face significant challenges to their well-being. Transgender children are often rejected by their family and peers, harassed, traumatized and abused, and are at a higher risk for depression and suicide. Discouraging or punishing children for expressing their true sense of identity threatens their health and well-being, and schools have a special responsibility to protect all young people, regardless of gender identity or expression." -- Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper, Reproductive Health Advocacy Fellow at Physicians for Reproductive Health

Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute

“In a shameful display of failed leadership, today President Trump succumbed to his extremist advisors and provided permission for schools to discriminate against transgender students. The move – while abhorrent – is unfortunately not surprising. Regardless of Trump claiming he would be a friend to LGBT people, the reality is personnel is policy. Trump is surrounding himself with anti-LGBT appointees who demonize our community and reject the notion of civil rights for LGBT people, making anti-LGBT policies almost inevitable." -- <i><a href="victoryinstitute.org" target="_blank">Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute</a> President and CEO Aisha C. Moodie-Mills</i>
“In a shameful display of failed leadership, today President Trump succumbed to his extremist advisors and provided permission for schools to discriminate against transgender students. The move – while abhorrent – is unfortunately not surprising. Regardless of Trump claiming he would be a friend to LGBT people, the reality is personnel is policy. Trump is surrounding himself with anti-LGBT appointees who demonize our community and reject the notion of civil rights for LGBT people, making anti-LGBT policies almost inevitable." -- Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute President and CEO Aisha C. Moodie-Mills

National LGBTQ Task Force

“This is an outrageous attack on the most vulnerable in our education system, transgender children. At a time when young people need all the help they can get to reach their full potential, all Trump has to offer is more opportunities to discriminate against them. When every parent of a trans child needs hope and optimism for their families, all the president has to offer is pain and despair.” -- <i><a href="http://www.thetaskforce.org/trumps-title-ix-guidance-removal-outrageous-attack-on-the-most-vulnerable/" target="_blank">National LGBTQ Task Force</a> Executive Director Rea Carey</i>
“This is an outrageous attack on the most vulnerable in our education system, transgender children. At a time when young people need all the help they can get to reach their full potential, all Trump has to offer is more opportunities to discriminate against them. When every parent of a trans child needs hope and optimism for their families, all the president has to offer is pain and despair.” -- National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

“Revoking the guidance shows that the president’s promise to protect LGBT rights was just empty rhetoric. But the bottom line is that this does not undo legal protections for trans students, and school districts can and must continue to protect them and all students from discrimination. School districts that recognize that should continue doing the right thing; for the rest, we’ll see them in court. We will continue to fight for the rights and dignity of transgender youth, especially now that the Trump administration has decided to turn its back on them.” --<i> <a href="https://www.aclu.org/" target="_blank">American Civil Liberties Union</a> LGBT Project Director James Esseks</i>
“Revoking the guidance shows that the president’s promise to protect LGBT rights was just empty rhetoric. But the bottom line is that this does not undo legal protections for trans students, and school districts can and must continue to protect them and all students from discrimination. School districts that recognize that should continue doing the right thing; for the rest, we’ll see them in court. We will continue to fight for the rights and dignity of transgender youth, especially now that the Trump administration has decided to turn its back on them.” -- American Civil Liberties Union LGBT Project Director James Esseks

New York Civil Liberties Union

“The Trump administration has made it clear that it will not protect the rights of the transgender community – one of the most vulnerable populations in the U.S. Even as the law remains on the side of transgender students, the administration’s new guidance sends them a terrible message about their right to receive an education as the people that they are, and creates national confusion around our civil rights laws that will put countless transgender children’s lives and well-being at risk.” -- <i><a href="https://www.nyclu.org/" target="_blank">New York Civil Liberties Union</a> Executive Director Donna Lieberman</i>
“The Trump administration has made it clear that it will not protect the rights of the transgender community – one of the most vulnerable populations in the U.S. Even as the law remains on the side of transgender students, the administration’s new guidance sends them a terrible message about their right to receive an education as the people that they are, and creates national confusion around our civil rights laws that will put countless transgender children’s lives and well-being at risk.” -- New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman

Lambda Legal

“We all know that Donald Trump is a bully, but his attack on transgender children today is a new low. The U.S. Department of Education’s decision to withdraw guidance clarifying the rights of transgender students endangers the well-being and safety of children across the country. Trump’s actions do not change the law itself—transgender students remain protected by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972—but abandoning the guidance intentionally creates confusion about what federal law requires. The law bars discrimination – the new administration invites it." -- <i><a href="http://www.lambdalegal.org/" target="_blank">Lambda Legal</a> CEO Rachel B. Tiven</i>
“We all know that Donald Trump is a bully, but his attack on transgender children today is a new low. The U.S. Department of Education’s decision to withdraw guidance clarifying the rights of transgender students endangers the well-being and safety of children across the country. Trump’s actions do not change the law itself—transgender students remain protected by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972—but abandoning the guidance intentionally creates confusion about what federal law requires. The law bars discrimination – the new administration invites it." -- Lambda Legal CEO Rachel B. Tiven

Equality Pennsylvania

"Every student should be treated fairly and equally under the law, and protecting transgender students helps ensure that they have the same opportunity as their classmates to fully participate in school. The Trump administration’s decision to rescind this guidance has no impact on schools that are already doing the right thing in line with this guidance – they can, should, and will continue to protect transgender students.That’s why revoking this guidance is indicative of the administration’s disregard for transgender youth and the many challenges they face. While it may not have a legal impact, it sends an alarming messaging that bullying and harassment are OK." --<i> <a href="http://equalitypa.org/statement-from-equality-pa-protecting-transgender-youth-from-discrimination/" target="_blank">Equality Pennsylvania</a> Executive Director Ted Martin</i>
"Every student should be treated fairly and equally under the law, and protecting transgender students helps ensure that they have the same opportunity as their classmates to fully participate in school. The Trump administration’s decision to rescind this guidance has no impact on schools that are already doing the right thing in line with this guidance – they can, should, and will continue to protect transgender students.That’s why revoking this guidance is indicative of the administration’s disregard for transgender youth and the many challenges they face. While it may not have a legal impact, it sends an alarming messaging that bullying and harassment are OK." -- Equality Pennsylvania Executive Director Ted Martin

Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC)

"The unacceptable repeal of vital transgender protections in public schools by the Trump administration restricts the rights of an entire group of people. In recent years, we have made great strides in increasing social justice for the LGBT community, and this intolerant executive order diminishes that progress. We will continue to make our voices heard to ensure schools remain safe spaces for all children, regardless of the gender they identify with." -- <i><a href="http://www.gmhc.org/" target="_blank">GMHC</a> CEO Kelsey Louie</i>
"The unacceptable repeal of vital transgender protections in public schools by the Trump administration restricts the rights of an entire group of people. In recent years, we have made great strides in increasing social justice for the LGBT community, and this intolerant executive order diminishes that progress. We will continue to make our voices heard to ensure schools remain safe spaces for all children, regardless of the gender they identify with." -- GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie

National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)

"Since our founding, the National Center for Lesbian Rights has stood for the principle that every child deserves love, respect, and recognition for who they are. We have advanced this vision for 40 years, and we do not intend to let this administration's irresponsible and cowardly actions get in the way of fighting for our youth. We will not let Jeff Sessions and Mike Pence, two of the most openly anti-LGBT public officials in our nation’s history, erase the gains we have made." -- <i><a href="http://www.nclrights.org/" target="_blank">National Center for Lesbian Rights</a> Executive Director Kate Kendell</i>
"Since our founding, the National Center for Lesbian Rights has stood for the principle that every child deserves love, respect, and recognition for who they are. We have advanced this vision for 40 years, and we do not intend to let this administration's irresponsible and cowardly actions get in the way of fighting for our youth. We will not let Jeff Sessions and Mike Pence, two of the most openly anti-LGBT public officials in our nation’s history, erase the gains we have made." -- National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell

Equality Florida

“This comprehensive guidance put in place by the Obama administration helped provide every student a fair chance to succeed in school and prepare for their future—including students who are transgender. Schools should be safe places for LGBTQ students who are already at a disproportionate risk for bullying and harassment. Rescinding the guidance yesterday has sent the message to transgender youth that the President of the United States doesn’t have their backs.” -- <i><a href="http://www.eqfl.org/news/Trump_TitleIX" target="_blank">Gina Duncan, Transgender Inclusion Director for Equality Florida</a></i>
“This comprehensive guidance put in place by the Obama administration helped provide every student a fair chance to succeed in school and prepare for their future—including students who are transgender. Schools should be safe places for LGBTQ students who are already at a disproportionate risk for bullying and harassment. Rescinding the guidance yesterday has sent the message to transgender youth that the President of the United States doesn’t have their backs.” -- Gina Duncan, Transgender Inclusion Director for Equality Florida

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.