HRC issued the following statement in advance of the nomination hearing of Howard C. Nielson, Jr. to the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah by the Trump-Pence Administration:
“The nomination of Howard Nielson to the federal bench is the latest attack on LGBTQ people by the Trump-Pence Administration,” said Sarah Warbelow, HRC’s Legal Director. “Nielson has a long track record of hostility and discrimination towards the LGBTQ community. He has stated that being gay is a choice, argued in favor of Prop 8 and abusive conversion therapy techniques, and had the audacity to claim a gay judge could not be impartial in a ruling involving LGBTQ rights. Nielson is unfit to serve on the federal bench, and the Senate Judiciary Committee should reject his nomination.”
Howard Nielson drew controversy in 2010 for several claims he made while defending California’s Proposition 8, the unconstitutional law that prohibited loving, same-sex couples from marrying. In court testimony, Nielson argued against science that homosexuality is a choice, that anti-LGBTQ discrimination doesn’t lead to higher amounts of stress and mental difficulties, and that Vaughn Walker, a Reagan and Bush nominated federal judge, couldn’t rule on a federal civil rights case because he is gay.
Nielson’s nomination is part of an ongoing attack on LGBTQ people by the Trump-Pence Administration and attempts to stack all levels of government with dangerous anti-LGBTQ officials. Last year, Trump attempted to ban transgender troops from serving in the military. Recently, he fired the remaining appointees on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS after six members resigned over what they felt was a “lack of regard” on the part of the Trump-Pence Administration.
Nielson was nominated by the Trump-Pence Administration in September, and his hearing is scheduled to take place on January 10th. His nomination follows the failure of several anti-LGBTQ judicial nominees put forward by the Trump-Pence Administration. The Human Rights Campaign, along with coalition partners, has successfully advocated against Trump’s judicial nominees and will continue to lead the fight against anti-LGBTQ policies and appointees.