Press Room

February 20, 2004

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HRC Strongly Condemns Recess Appointment of William Pryor to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th

Pryor Has Abused His Position to Attack Gay Civil Rights, Has Likened Gay Relationships to Incest, Pedophilia

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign today strongly condemned the recess appointment of William Pryor to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. In his role as Alabama's attorney general, Pryor utilized state resources to advance his own political goals and attack civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans. He is on record using mean-spirited rhetoric that compares gay relationships with incest and pedophilia and perpetuates hurtful myths.

"We have no reason to believe that William Pryor - who has shown time and again that he's unable to separate his anti-gay beliefs from his professional duties - will be able to serve as a federal judge without bias," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. "Mr. Pryor changed his vacation plans to avoid being at Disney World during gay days. If he's too prejudiced to share a 36,000-acre theme park with openly gay couples and their families, he should not be serving on a federal bench. It's especially troubling that he's been appointed to the same court that's been asked to rule on whether gays who serve as foster parents should be able to legally adopt children they've raised their entire lives."

The 11th Circuit Court has been asked to review the decision in Lofton v. Kearney, which upheld Florida's ban on adoption by gay and lesbian parents even though they're allowed to serve as foster parents. There are more than 4,000 children currently waiting for homes in Florida.

Jacques added, "Putting an individual with a track record of animus against GLBT Americans on any federal court, particularly the 11th Circuit, could have a devastating effect on so many GLBT Americans and their children."

As Alabama's attorney general, Pryor abused his position by utilizing state resources to directly and indirectly attack GLBT Americans in his state and across the country. He linked the state attorney general's website to vehemently anti-GLBT groups, including the Family Research Council and the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which regularly litigates cases against GLBT rights. In contrast, his website does not make any links to groups that supported GLBT civil rights.

Although most states with sodomy statutes on their books did not file briefs in defense of their laws, Pryor filed an amicus ("friend of the court") brief in the Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court case challenging Texas's sodomy law. Pryor's brief likens homosexuality to incest, necrophilia, pedophilia, prostitution and adultery. He also argues in the brief that sodomy is a chosen behavior unworthy of constitutional protection, and fails to recognize GLBT individuals as people worthy of the same constitutional rights and protections that other Americans take for granted.

"Mr. Pryor's remarks fly in the face of scientific and medical evidence, and common decency. He has used his position to marginalize and malign GLBT Americans. That kind of bias and blatant discrimination is not appropriate for someone assuming a lifetime appointment to a federal circuit court," said Jacques.

Pryor is one of only six judges that HRC has opposed out of approximately 200 nominated by the president. More than 175 national groups joined in this opposition - including the Log Cabin Republicans, the NAACP, NARAL Pro-Choice America, People for the American Way, the
Sierra Club and World Association of Persons With Disabilities. (For more information, visit:
http://www.independentjudiciary.com/nominees/nominee.cfm?NomineeID=46
)

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