In a pair of 2015 speeches, President Donald Trump’s nominee for a federal judgeship in Texas described transgender children as evidence of “Satan’s plan,” lamented that states were banning conversion therapy and argued that sanctioning same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy and bestiality.
Jeff Mateer, the current first assistant attorney general of Texas, was serving at the time as general counsel of the First Liberty Institute, a religious liberty (hate) advocacy group known before 2016 as the Liberty Institute.
He faced criticism from LGBT rights groups for his work with the organization, such as opposing the expansion of nondiscrimination protections to LGBT people in the city of Plano. If confirmed by the US Senate, he will serve on the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
Later that year in November 2015, Mateer lamented that states were banning gay conversion therapy at a conference hosted by controversial pastor Kevin Swanson, who preaches that the Biblical punishment for homosexuality is death. – CNN’s K-File team
Mateer, who Trump nominated to fill a vacant seat in the Eastern District of Texas, has no judicial experience and most of his work has been in private practice. Mateer made headlines last year when Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton made him the state’s first assistant attorney general. Mateer had publicly eschewed the notion of church-state separation. As he told students during a conference at the University of St. Thomas in 2013:
“I’ll hold up my hundred-dollar bill and say, ‘for the first student who can cite me the provision in the Constitution that guarantees the separation of church and state verbatim, I’ll give this hundred dollar bill. … It’s not there. … The protections of the First Amendment protect us from government, not to cause government to persecute us because of our religious beliefs.”
It turns out there are some big ‘ole 18 wheeler truck sized loopholes having to do with “religious freedom” in Plano, Texas’ just approved LGBT Rights ordinance that everyone is crowing about that makes it almost virtually worthless. (Which is probably why it passed by such a huge margin)
According to the revised ordinance, discrimination based on a resident’s sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited in regards to public accommodation, employment, housing transactions and city contracting. However, religious and political groups as well as nonprofit organizations are exempt from the ordinance.
City Attorney Paige Mims said the ordinance also includes a waiver process for businesses to be exempt if the owners feel the policy would not allow them to conduct business based on their personal faith. Individuals and organizations found in noncompliance to the ordinance would be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, the least severe class of misdemeanor. While the ordinance does make it illegal to discriminate against gender identity in a public place, Mims said that would not extend to public restrooms and locker rooms which would still be segregated based on physical anatomy.
“We realize that privacy interests need to be balanced with equality interests,” Mims said at the meeting. “We took a lot of care to look at constitutional issues and freedoms that people have that are protected under the law … We’ve recognized in this ordinance that due process needs to be allowed and if people do have those [religious] defenses, they’re required under law to give the city notification … and we’re going to evaluate that.”
So all businesses large and small have to do is say “it’s against my personal faith” and they can get a waiver to legally discriminate and be a bigot. And of course non-profits are exempted, and all religious institutions and organizations. Andd trans folks still can’t use public restrooms.
But gee, it did look swell on paper. As long as no one read it.