When President Trump appointed Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, it left many Americans fearful that the new justice would overturn the legalization of gay marriage. But as the New York Times points out, it’s not so easy to tell where Gorsuch stands on the issue. That’s because conflicting evidence makes it hard to pinpoint exactly what his views are.
On the one hand, Judge Gorsuch has been very supportive of his gay friends and colleagues, who include Phil Berg, Joshua Goodbaum, and Ken Mehlman. The federal judge even attends a gay-friendly church in Boulder, Colorado called St. John’s Episcopal. All of this would seem to suggest that Gorsuch is pro-gay rights.
But on the other hand, he has also shown a tremendous amount of respect for the late Antonin Scalia, who voted against gay marriage. During his time as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Scalia went as far as to claim that the court was being swayed by a “homosexual agenda.” And this is a man that Gorsuch reportedly cried over upon learning of his death.
To be clear, Judge Gorsuch himself has never ruled on gay marriage before. However, he has issued rulings related to religious freedom laws.
For example, in 2013, Judge Gorsuch sided with Hobby Lobby that employers shouldn’t be required to provide contraceptive healthcare coverage if it conflicted with the employer’s religious beliefs. And in 2015, Gorsuch ruled in favor of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections in denying a transgender inmate the right to receive hormone treatment and wear feminine clothing.
But while his previous rulings in favor of religious freedom laws are certainly concerning, experts warn that it’s not necessarily an indication of an anti-gay stance.
“I do not agree that Hobby Lobby is a death knell that proves Judge Gorsuch would say that people can, on religious grounds, violate anti-discrimination laws,” said Laurence Tribe, a law professor at Harvard University.
And since Gorsuch himself hasn’t publicly stated his beliefs about gay marriage, the LGBT community will just have to wait and see how he rules in the courtroom.