HRC Blog

Traditional Values Coalition Urges Senators to Vote Against “Open, Radical Lesbian”

Equality Courts Update 5:05 PM EST -- Lesbian Judge Confirmed by Senate: The Senate has confirmed Marisa Demeo, an openly lesbian Magistrate Judge, for an Associate Judge position on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia with a 66-32 vote. HRC is pleased by Demeo’s confirmation and we are confident that her knowledge and expertise will serve D.C. well.

In a letter dated April 15, 2010 , the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) urges Senators to vote against the confirmation of Marisa Demeo to become an Associate Judge on the D.C. Superior Court.  Demeo, an openly lesbian Magistrate Judge, would be the second Hispanic woman nominated to the D.C. Superior Court. TVC claims Demeo is “out of the mainstream” and an “open, radical lesbian.” The organization’s Executive Director, Andrea Lafferty, claims that Demeo’s confirmation would undermine our national security because of her work at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Lafferty also claims that Demeo would bring “radical lesbianism” and “anti-marriage” views to the bench because Demeo personally opposed amending the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as a one-man, one-woman union. However, the real story is that Demeo is unarguably qualified to be confirmed as Associate Judge on the D.C. Superior Court, but her confirmation has experienced record delays by obstructionists in the Senate. Demeo’s nomination has lagged for over a year in the Senate – the longest-pending judicial nomination on the Executive Calendar of the 111th Congress. Only yesterday, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy (D-VT), criticized the delay in Demeo’s confirmation:

“[Demeo’s] nomination has been blocked since it was reported by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in May 2009. This sort of obstruction of a D.C. Superior Court nomination is unprecedented. These nominations for 15-year terms on the District’s trial court are not usually controversial. The nomination of Magistrate Judge Demeo, an experienced former prosecutor and Justice Department veteran who is the second Hispanic woman nominated to this court, is one I strongly support. I know Judge Demeo and have known her for years. The Chief Judge of the Superior Court, Lee Satterfield, has written several times to the majority and minority leaders about the ‘dire situation’ created by vacancies on that court for administration of justice in Washington, D.C., our Nation’s capitol. As usual, the cost of Republican obstruction is borne by the American people.

Delay of Demeo’s confirmation is unfounded. Demeo has served as an excellent Magistrate Judge, and has made a career of ensuring that all individuals are protected by the laws of our nation. In addition, despite the claims of the TVC, Demeo’s career of service reflects the actual values of our nation. Demeo began her career as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division Employment Litigation Section. She then joined the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) as a staff attorney, and was eventually promoted to head of the MALDEF D.C. office. During her time at MALDEF, Demeo advocated on behalf of Latino civil rights issues, including employment, voting, immigration, education and criminal justice. Before her appointment to the D.C. Superior Court as a Magistrate Judge, Demeo also worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. Throughout her career, Demeo has demonstrated an understanding of, and unwavering commitment to, civil rights. She has more than fifteen years of experience working with LGBT, Latino, civil rights and community groups such as DOJ Pride and GAYLAW. Demeo is also a former co-chair of GELAAM where she conducted HIV and breast cancer outreach and education to the local Latino community. Senate Democrats and Republicans have agreed to begin consideration of Demeo’s nomination around 2:15 this afternoon, with a six hour time limit for debate. HRC urges all Senators to vote to confirm Demeo as the next Associate Judge on the D.C. Superior Court.

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