President Donald Trump’s nominee to become his next Secretary of Labor has a long, conservative, and disturbing past – especially for someone who is supposed to represent the interests of the nation’s workforce. Eugene Scalia (son of the late Supreme Court justice) is a lawyer and a lobbyist who once called ergonomics – which helps protect workers from repetitive stress injuries – “junk science.” He’s also represented a wide swath of employers, while standing against workers.
In addition to exposing those concerning aspects of his work history, his attitudes toward LGBTQ people commanded the attention of several top Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on Thursday.
Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy spent a minute-and-a-half discussing the nominee’s troubling résumé, then pivoted to Scalia’s college writings against LGBTQ Americans.
“Way back in 1985 you wrote an article entitled, ‘Trivializing the Issues Behind Gay Rights.’ In it you wrote, ‘I do not think we should treat it as equally acceptable or desirable as the traditional family life,'” Sen. Murphy said.
The Washington Post adds Scalia in another college op-ed “said gay parents were ‘in conflict with the traditional organization of society.'”
Asked if his views on the LGBTQ community have “matured,” Scalia worked hard to not disavow his writing, speaking for over 90 seconds about everything but LGBTQ people. He ended by finally offering these statements to Senator Murphy:
“Yes, I certainly have changed in how I view any number of things.”
“I think we’ve all matured, one would hope, since those days.”
“I would, certainly, enforce the law.”
After that stonewalling, Sen. Murphy pressed him to answer “how” his views have changed.
“I wouldn’t write those words today, Senator. I would not write those words today, in part because I now have friends and colleagues to whom they would cause pain. I would not want to do that.”
Notice he never answered the question – in fact, the closest he got was the proverbial ‘I have gay friends’ claim.
.@ChrisMurphyCT asks about 1985 article on gay rights: “You reference in that article that they were not equal of the same treatment, those different life styles. Has that changed?
Labor Secretary Nominee Eugene Scalia: “I would not write those words today.” pic.twitter.com/zcWxBXhtaA
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 19, 2019
After that exhausting enterprise, Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine revisited the issue of LGBTQ people.
“You do believe LGBTQ Americans are entitled to equal protection of the law, correct?”
Scalia again dodged the question.
“That is what the Supreme Court has ordained,” the uber-conservative attorney replied.
Kaine pressed again.
“I’m asking about your personal belief – LGBTQ Americans are entitled to equal protection of the law?”
“I do,” believe they are, Scalia finally answered. He also said he believes it is wrong for an employer to terminate someone for being LGBTQ.
Sen. @timkaine follows up, asking if Scalia believes LGBTQ Americans are entitled to equal protection of the law.
Eugene Scalia: “I do.”
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 19, 2019
But to get to those two answers took a lot of work and a lot of time.
And he never said he personally supports same-sex marriage, he never took back his remarks about gay parents, and never even said that he thinks LGBTQ people deserve to be treated just like everyone else, regardless of the law.
All this should make Democratic Senators – and, in fact, all Americans – very nervous.
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