Posted Jun 04, 2008 02:51 pm CDT
An Oklahoma judge has taken aim at what he calls the “liberal, pro-homosexual American Bar Association” in a letter opposing a change in the state’s judicial conduct code.
Judge Bill Graves of Oklahoma County used that phrase to describe the ABA in a letter opposing a proposed anti-bias amendment to the state’s judicial conduct code based on an ABA model act, the Oklahoman reports.
The letter (PDF posted by the Oklahoman) contends the provision would provide even more protection to sexual orientation by barring judges from holding membership in groups that discriminate based on sexual orientation and other grounds.
Graves said the Oklahoma judicial code already bars judges from showing bias on the basis of sexual orientation and that such a provision “is promoting the homosexual agenda, which is to have homosexuality treated as normal and natural as heterosexuality. These are cultural, moral and political issues that should be reserved to the legislative branch.”
Graves, a former state lawmaker, wrote that “sexual orientation” could include pedophiles and polygamists. “Homosexuals practice anal sodomy, … which no doubt has contributed greatly to the AIDS plague,” he wrote. Using sexual orientation as a protected category bars judges from refusing to award custody of children to gays and lesbians, he said. He maintained that such issues should be decided by the legislature.
Mark Harrison, chair of the ABA Joint Commission to Evaluate the Model Code of Judicial Conduct, told the newspaper the ABA is not trying to promote an agenda. He said the anti-discrimination provision won unanimous support from a diverse group of judges, lawyers and academics. The ABA House of Delegates approved the revised model code last year.
The ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct (PDF) says judges may not discriminate on the bench on the basis of race, sex, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, socioeconomic status or political affiliation. However the code says judges are not barred from making reference to such factors when they are relevant to the proceedings.
The former version of the model code had barred judges from belonging to organizations that discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion or national origin. The categories of gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation were added to that list when the revisions were adopted in 2007. A comment makes clear the ban does not apply to membership in religious organizations.