A look at U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch's anti-LGBTQ legislative "mentor," Bill Armstrong

The following is a guest post by Jeremy Hooper, special projects consultant at GLAAD and lead researcher on GLAAD's Trump Accountability Project.

Jeff Hunt, the Vice President of Colorado Christian University, is close enough to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch that he was able to speak to him just days before President Trump nominated the forty-nine year old conservative to a lifetime role.

Hunt told The Denver Post:

Gorsuch’s rulings ‘are very promising from a conservative perspective,’ said Jeff Hunt, the Centennial Institute director at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, who spoke to Gorsuch days before his nomination. ‘He understands the role of the government and the role of the courts.’” [Denver Post]

Keep in mind that Hunt said he spoke to Gorsuch days before the nomination, not after. Meaning, this wasn’t some courtesy call you make following a major political announcement. Speaking prior to the nomination reiterates that a certain closeness exists between the two men.

This same Jeff Hunt recently issued a fundraising email where he spoke glowingly of his seeming pal’s socially conservative bona fides. Hunt writes:

“Judge Gorsuch has proven he’s pro-life, pro-family, and pro-religious liberty, which is exactly why the radical Left is rallying against him.

His rulings are very promising from a conservative perspective, which is why it’s critical we rush to his aid immediately and ensure he’s confirmed…

As a native of Colorado and a devoted follower of Christ, we couldn’t be more excited about what Judge Gorsuch will do to help overturn Roe v. Wade, uphold traditional marriage, and protect our religious freedom.

When our past president, Bill Armstrong, was serving in the U.S. Senate, a young Neil Gorsuch even interned for him.

The late Senator Bill Armstrong helped mentor this brilliant conservative legal mind, and now he has the chance to ascend to the nation’s highest court where he will defend our values for decades to come.” [SOURCE]

So Hunt, who seems to know Gorsuch well, seems to think that he will, among other things, “uphold traditional marriage.” And to help make his case, Hunt refers to Gorsuch’s close relationship and past internship with a mutual friend of theirs, the late U.S. Senator Bill Armstrong.

It’s a relationship that should be deeply problematic for LGBTQ people.

While he was serving in the U.S. Senate—and while Neil Gorsuch was serving as his page and intern—Bill Armstrong was a heated opponent of LGBTQ rights. When D.C. passed a pro-LGBTQ bill in 1990, Armstrong presented an amendment that would have allowed organizations to prevent gay people from becoming a “role model, mentor or companion to any minor.” This thankfully was shut down by the entire U.S. Senate.

Also, Senator Armstrong sponsored a controversial amendment that would have allowed Georgetown University to circumvent local law and bar LGBTQ organizations. He not only opposed LGBTQ rights, but he made such opposition a priority. Neil Gorsuch, potential U.S. Supreme Court nominee, chose to work in this office.

But Armstrong really showed his heart after he left the senate. Armstrong went on to head up a number of Colorado based conservative groups. In this capacity, he once warned that LGBTQ civil rights would “force you and me to give our state's legal blessing to aberrant homosexual behavior and lifestyles.” Armstrong also claimed that removing the Boy Scouts’ anti-gay policies would increase “mental health problems, depression, physical abuse [and] incest,” lead to “reduced life expectancy,” and “behavior regarded as aberrant and immoral.” Then in the last year of his life, Armstrong worked to bar the LGBT Log Cabin Republicans from an annual state conservative conference that he sponsored, insisting that “the homosexual agenda in part is to shut down further discussion.” By the time he died in 2016, opposition to LGBTQ rights was a major part of his legacy.

Screenshot of Jeff Hunt's Facebook post on the Gorsuch nomination.

But Armstrong’s last role, and one that he held for ten years, was president of Colorado Christian University—bringing it back to the aforementioned Jeff Hunt, the Vice President of CCU who is now vouching for his pal Neil Gorsuch.

Interns don’t always have to agree with their congressional bosses, but in this case Mr. Hunt is directly claiming this relationship as formative to the judge’s conservative philosophy. If Gorsuch subscribes to even a portion of Mr. Armstrong’s legacy, then LGBTQ people can expect horrific rulings from a Justice Gorsuch. That the intimately familiar Hunt seems to think Judge Gorsuch subscribes to most (if not all) of Armstrong’s legacy is nothing short of worrisome.

Which is just one more reason why today’s confirmation hearing must feature a robust questioning of Judge Gorsuch’s views on LGBTQ rights. On the subject, his record is fairly thin, but the open questions are concerning. If U.S. Senators are going to paint a robust portrait of this nominee, then LGBTQ rights must be a part of that painting. And if Senators need more fuel for their questions, then they can look to their fiery former colleague for whom Judge Gorsuch once labored: his “mentor” Bill Armstrong.

 

 

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