There's been a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas for two years, and on Wednesday, President Trump nominated Jeff Mateer, the first assistant attorney general of Texas, to fill it. This has proven controversial, however, as Mateer staunchly opposes LGBT rights, has called same-sex marriage "disgusting" and once said that transgender children were evidence of "Satan's plan."
CNN uncovered a series of remarks Mateer made as the general counsel of the First Liberty Institute, a conservative advocacy group for which he worked prior to joining the Texas Attorney General's office. In one 2015 speech, Mateer discussed the case of a transgender first grader whose family sued her school so she could use the bathroom that corresponded with her gender identity. In addition to doubting the child's ability to know her own gender identity, Mateer suggested that Satan himself had a hand in the controversy.
"In Colorado, a public school has been sued because a first grader — and I forget the sex, she's a girl who thinks she's a boy, or a boy who thinks she's a girl? It's probably that, a boy who thinks she's a girl," Mateer said in the speech, according to CNN's KFILE. "And the school said, 'Well, she's not using the girl's restroom.' And so she has now sued to have a right to go in."
"Now, I submit to you, a parent of three children who are now young adults, [does] a first grader really knows what their sexual identity?" Trump's judicial nominee continued. "I mean, it just really shows you how Satan's plan is working and the destruction that's going on."
Mateer has also claimed that LGBT activists are attempting to impose "an agenda" on America, and compared same-sex marriage to bestiality.
"I mean, it's disgusting," Mateer said shortly after the landmark Supreme Court decision that granted marriage rights to same-sex couples. "There are people who marry themselves. Somebody wanted to marry a tree. People marrying their pets. It's just like — you know, you read the New Testament and you read about all the things and you think, 'Oh, that's not going on in our community.' Oh yes, it is. We're back to that time where debauchery rules."
In another speech excerpt posted by CNN, Mateer lamented that gay conversion therapy had been banned in several states. But gay conversion therapy — in which gay people are told that they can stop being gay if they try hard enough — has been thoroughly denounced by the American Psychiatric Association and other industry groups. In fact, the American Pediatric Association concluded that "it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation."
"If you're giving conversion therapy, that's been outlawed in at least two states and then in some local areas," Mateer said in the speech. "So they're invading that area."
Incendiary quotes aside, Mateer has also taken material action against attempts to expand LGBT rights. As the general counsel for First Liberty Institute, he spearheaded the legal fight against an ordinance in Plano, Texas, that expanded nondiscrimination protections to LGBT residents. Claiming that it was "a religious liberty issue," Mateer circulated a petition in the city in an attempt to force a ballot referendum on the ordinance. This effort failed, however, when city officials discovered that the petition contained false information about the ordinance in question, alongside many other deficiencies.
As a candidate for the presidency, Trump promised to fight for the LGBT community. As president, however, he's banned transgender troops from the military and withdrawn Obama-era protections for transgender students. His decision to nominate a vociferously anti-gay man for a federal judgeship is a flagrant contradiction of his campaign promises, and yet given the actions he's taken on LGBT issues during his young presidency, it's not surprising.