As the nation reels from three sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, a growing chorus of LGBTQ organizations, activists, and allies is demanding that his confirmation process come to a halt.
On Wednesday, Lambda Legal called on the Senate to oppose his nomination, not because Kavanaugh could jeopardize decades of LGBTQ advances, but because public concern had hit a breaking point after Julie Swetnick became the third woman to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual assault in a sworn statement.
“While this is about the future of the Supreme Court, it has become about something even larger than that,” said Sharon McGowan, Lambda Legal’s chief strategy officer, in a statement. “This is a test of the moral fiber of our country, and men, women, boys, and girls are watching the Senate to determine whether Republicans are capable of putting moral decency ahead of party.”
The National Center for Transgender Equality called for an immediate withdrawal of Kavanaugh’s nomination on Wednesday. NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said in a statement that the Senate Judiciary Committee had handled the matter shamefully.
“Transgender survivors know all too well how often survivors are blamed, attacked, and cruelly disregarded,” Keisling said. “We cannot be a country that treats survivors this way at the highest levels of government.”
The Human Rights Campaign further blasted Kavanaugh and the GOP for failing to stand with survivors of assault.
“Since the Senate Republican leadership have refused to investigate, the Trump-Pence Administration must withdraw Kavanaugh’s nomination immediately,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The price of admission to our nation’s highest court must be a fair, deliberate, thorough and transparent confirmation process.”
RT if you believe Senate @GOP leadership should actually fulfill their constitutional duties and thoroughly investigate Dr. Blasey Ford’s, Deborah Ramirez’s and Julie Swetnick's sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. #BelieveSurvivors
Txt SAVE SCOTUS to 30644
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) September 26, 2018
Swetnick’s explosive allegations, released by attorney Michael Avenatti, detail a litany of abuses by Kavanaugh, including forcing himself on women, “spiking” and drugging “punch” at parties to facilitate assault, and watching passively as Swetnick was gang-raped.
Below is my correspondence to Mr. Davis of moments ago, together with a sworn declaration from my client. We demand an immediate FBI investigation into the allegations. Under no circumstances should Brett Kavanaugh be confirmed absent a full and complete investigation. pic.twitter.com/QHbHBbbfbE
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) September 26, 2018
Kavanaugh already presented a precarious choice for LGBTQ Americans. In August, GLAAD pressed senators to demand he clarify his stance on LGBTQ rights, noting that the extreme anti-LGBTQ organizations the Family Research Council and the Federalist Society backed him.
Kavanaugh has also referred to anti-LGBTQ Justice Antonin Scalia as his “hero” and praised his dissent against the Supreme Court Obergefell decision, which made marriage equality the law of the land in 2015. In his confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh repeatedly refused to state his stance on marriage equality and workplace protections for LGBTQ people.
But charges of sexual assault surrounding the nominee also strike a particularly sensitive note for a community facing elevated rates of sexual violence.
On Tuesday night, progressive New York Congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accused Republicans of failing to understand how the Kavanaugh nomination was retraumatizing a nation of survivors, pointing to trans women of color.
“This evening I spent time with constituents in Jackson Heights, many of them trans women of color, as they told me their experiences as victims of sexual assault, violence, marginalization, and w/ sex work,” Ocasio-Cortez Tweeted. “It was the 1st time a local candidate/official agreed to meet with them.”
This evening I spent time with constituents in Jackson Heights, many of them trans women of color, as they told me their experiences as victims of sexual assault, violence, marginalization, and w/ sex work.
It was the 1st time a local candidate/official agreed to meet with them.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) September 26, 2018
Chase Strangio, staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT and AIDS Project, replied that he was emotional reading Ocasio-Cortez’s statement.
I was emotional reading this. It is so rare to have a congressional candidate see, sit with, and care about the violence and policing trans women of color face. I hope Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t forget these incredible women once she gets to Washington. https://t.co/FgkuhQvBPx
— Chase Strangio (@chasestrangio) September 26, 2018
In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 61 percent of bisexual women were raped in their lifetime. Among lesbian women, that number was 44 percent, while 37 percent of bisexual men had been raped.
Rates of sexual violence against transgender people are staggeringly high, with nearly half (47 percent) reporting being sexually assaulted in their lifetime, according to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey.
In a Tweet, NCTE cited that statistic, noting that trans survivors know all too well how often survivors are blamed, attacked and disregarded.
Transgender survivors—47% of trans adults, according to the #USTransSurvey—know all too well how often survivors are blamed, attacked, and cruelly disregarded. Are we going to be a country that treats them that way at the highest levels of government?
— National Center for Transgender Equality (@TransEquality) September 26, 2018
“Are we going to be a country that treats them that way at the highest levels of government?” the organization asked.
Image of UltraViolet’s projected anti-Brett Kavanaugh messages on the United States Court of Appeals Tuesday Sept. 25, 2018 by Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call via Getty