Judge apologizes for 'deplorable' letters he wrote to college newspaper about gay people and AIDS

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A municipal court judge in Maumee, Ohio, is apologizing for two anti-gay letters to the editor he wrote as a student at Ohio State University in the 1990s.

Judge Dan Hazard called his letters “deplorable” and “reprehensible” in a statement and said he doesn’t hold such beliefs today by any means.

WTOL, the Toledo Blade and the Associated Press have coverage.

Hazard wrote the letters to his college newspaper, the Lantern. In one of them, he cites statistics from the Family Research Council on the young average age of death for people with AIDS. “I see these stats as good news, but I beg the homosexual community one thing: Please keep your AIDS to yourselves,” he wrote.

In another letter, Hazard says gay people “squeal for money and AIDS treatment.” Hazard said AIDS research should be discontinued because “95 percent of those inflicted with the deadly disease pretty much deserve it anyway.”

WTOL spoke with University of Toledo law professor Robert Salem, associate dean for diversity and inclusion at the school. Salem said he gives the judge credit for apologizing and says people can change.

Salem doesn’t think the letters violate judicial ethics rules because they were written before Hazard became a judge. But he says they could raise questions about Hazard’s impartiality.

You can’t blame members of the LGBTQ community for being skeptical because they have experienced so much discrimination and hatred, Salem told WTOL.

Here is Hazard’s full statement, given to WTOL after it discovered one of the letters:

“The letter posted here was reprehensible and deplorable. I wrote this and another of the same tone as a teenage college student 27 years ago and by no means hold those beliefs today. I have zero excuse and could not attempt to justify it then or now. It was hurtful to anyone that saw it in 1993 or today. I am sorry that it will hurt even more people today including my gay and transgendered family and friends whom I love dearly.

“Throughout my career, I have befriended and represented many gay clients. I have done so zealously without reservation. One of the first weddings I officiated after taking the bench was of a same-sex couple. I did so with respect and dignity. Every day I treat every litigant and attorney with that same respect no matter their background, experience or gender identity and will continue to do so.

“I am glad that this allows me to clarify my views that have drastically changed over time. Respect is owed not only in the courtroom but in all of society.”

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