AL Senate Candidate Roy Moore: “Transgenders Don’t Have Rights”

Roy Moore Senate Campaign

Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore – the man facing allegations of being a pedophile – argued at a press conference Wednesday that “The transgenders don’t have rights.” While some would read this statement as meaning transgender people are not a class of people recognized as being a protected class, based on his previous remarks about LGBTQ people, the comment should probably be taken at face value.

The Montgomery Advertiser reported on the comments:

Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, the Republican nominee for the seat currently held by U.S. Sen. Luther Strange, appeared at a press conference Wednesday to receive the endorsement of 13 sheriffs, all but one of them Republican.

Moore, an outspoken social conservative critical of LGBT rights, accused Jones of taking up “transgender issues and transgender rights in the military.”

“The transgenders don’t have rights,” Moore said at press conference. “They’ve never been denominated as having rights by the US Supreme Court. He believes in transgender bathrooms and transgenders in the military. I disagree with him 100 percent.”

The latter part of Moore’s comments took aim at his Democratic challenger Doug Jones.

Moore’s Rocky Legal History

Roy Moore served as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court not once, but twice. Both of those times he was forcibly removed from the bench for letting his personal religious beliefs interfere with his legal obligations.

The first time he was removed, Moore stood his ground over a Ten Commandments monument on government property. Peacock Panache contributor summarized the incident in 2014 as Moore took the bench a second time as a way of remembering why he was removed previously. She wrote:

A few days ago, a former student sent me a link to a story about crazy Alabama Judge Roy Moore. You’ll remember Moore from his previous term as Chief Judge of the Alabama Supreme Court (note to self: never, ever move to Alabama), when he commissioned a five-ton stone engraved with the Ten Commandments and had it installed at the Courthouse door. It was removed after the Federal Courts ruled it a gross and obvious violation of the First Amendment religion clauses–something you’d expect a judge to know.

Moore subsequently ran unsuccessfully for President on a Christian-Theocrat ticket of some sort. Most recently, he ran for–and won–his old seat on Alabama’s high court. (Note to self: remember this example of why we should not elect judges).

That second stint on the state’s high court didn’t end well either.

Moore’s trouble began in 2015 when he announced he wouldn’t abide by a federal judge’s ruling striking down Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban. We reported at the time:

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore told media he will not follow any legal decision handed down – federal, state or otherwise – contradicting his view on the legality of marriage equality. Moore’s statements follow two separate rulings on Friday and Monday striking down the state’s ban as unconstitutional. In a three-page open letter to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley published at AL.com, Moore firmly stated he would not abide by the legally-binding federal rulings.

“I ask you to continue to uphold and support the Alabama Constitution with respect to marriage, both for the welfare of this state and for our posterity,” Moore wrote. “Be advised that I stand with you to stop judicial tyranny and any unlawful opinions issued without constitutional authority.”

He went on to instruct judges across his state to ignore the federal decision striking down Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage. “No federal judge, or court, should redefine marriage,” Moore said in an interview with press.

That led to unrest and legal turmoil throughout Alabama while courts attempted to deal with Moore’s refusal to abide by the rule of law. This continued for the better part of 2015 until, in January 2016, Moore issued an order attempting to block the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples following the U.S. Supreme Court Obergefell decision.

We reported at the time:

“Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment or the Alabama Marriage Protection Act remain in full force and effect,” Moore wrote in the order. His directive directly references statements made last summer where he claimed public officials are “ministers of God.”

(They aren’t.)

The order additionally fulfills Moore promise last year to defy any order issued by the U.S. Supreme Court concerning marriage equality.

Attempting to justify his defiance, Moore argued about “recent developments of potential relevance since Obergefell may impact this issue.” Specifically, he referenced a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit claiming Obergefelldid not directly invalidate the marriage laws of the states under its jurisdiction (and only applied directly to states in the Sixth Circuit: Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee).

“[A]n order issued by a court with jurisdiction over the subject matter and person must be obeyed by the parties until it is reversed by orderly and proper proceedings,” Moore continued ignoring the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.

Not long thereafter the Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended Moore from his position as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

Moore remained firm in his opposition to LGBTQ couples being able to legally marry – even in the face of the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision. Facing charges for abusing his judicial role and failing to protect justice, Moore criticized his ideological opponents.

“The Judicial Inquiry Commission has no authority over the administrative orders of the chief justice of Alabama or the legal injunctions of the Alabama Supreme Court prohibiting probate judges from issuing same-sex marriage licenses,” he argued. “The Judicial Inquiry Commission has chosen to listen to people like Ambrosia Starling, a professed transvestite and other gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals, as well as organizations that support their agenda.”

By the end of September 2016, Moore’s suspension became permanent as the Alabama Court of the Judiciary (COJ) unanimously suspended Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore without pay for the remainder of his term in office.

Throughout his time in office, Moore demonstrated a penchant for saying exactly what he meant – even if that included supporting the obstruction of civil rights protected by the Constitution confirmed by the Supreme Court.

Moore’s Religious Bias

With the exception of the current allegations against him accusing him of engaging in inappropriate and illegal relations with a 14 year old girl when he was 32, Moore has couched nearly all of his legal defenses and policy opinions not in the Constitution or rule of law but in his own personal morality and religious beliefs. When those beliefs come into conflict with existing law, he’s chosen to disregard everything other than his religious morality.

Take comments he made during his senatorial campaign as an example. When asked in August about the spread of “Sharia Law,” Moore responded, “False religions like Islam who teach that you must worship this way, are completely opposite with what our First Amendment stands for. Our First Amendment stands for that man can’t tell you how to worship God. Congress can’t even make a law respecting an establishment of religion.”

During his nearly eight minute response, he even found a way to slight same-sex couples. “See, when [judges] create a right, they take away another right that God gave us. And if they keep going, they’ll take away any right,” Moore said.

That isn’t the first time Moore chose to publicly malign non-Christian faiths while legislating his own faith from the bench. We noted in September:

Before the primary election, The Daily Beast dug out statements Moore has made over the years. During a speech he gave to a fundamentalist Christian political organization, Operation Save America, he said

“I’m sorry but this country was not founded on Muhammad. It was not founded on Buddha. It was not founded on secular humanism. It was founded on God,” he said according to reports by AL.com.

He has frequently charged that Islam is a “false religion” that goes “against the American way of life.”

“[Islam is] a faith that conflicts with the First Amendment of the Constitution,” Moore said during a 2007 radio interview with Michelangelo Signorile, “The Constitution and Declaration of Independence has a direct reference to the Holy Scriptures.”

His homophobia is notorious. In a custody decision, he wrote that homosexuality is  “an inherent evil against which children must be protected.”

CNN also uncovered a 2005 interview between Moore and Bill Press during C-SPAN2’s After Words where he compared homosexuality to bestiality.

“Just because it’s done behind closed doors, it can still be prohibited by state law. Do you know that bestiality, the relationship between man and beast is prohibited in every state?” Moore told Press. When asked if Moore was comparing homosexuality to bestiality, he replied, “It’s the same thing.”

Moore rejects evolution. He attributes the 9/11 attacks to “God’s retribution” for our national “immorality,” and insists (against all historical evidence and the text of the Constitution) that the Founders established America as a “Christian Nation.”

Transgender Rights

Based on those factors, what does Roy Moore mean when he says, “the transgenders don’t have rights”?

(This is aside from the fact that he’s turned transgender – an adjective – into a scary-sounding noun.)

While his campaign staff would indubitably attempt to link the comment to merely meaning a lack of being a protected class, that explanation doesn’t hold water as he’s been wont to ignore existing constitutional protections for LGBTQ people on the books when holding the power of office.

Given the wave of LGBTQ candidates elected to office this week and the overall rejection of Trumpism that accompanied that election, Moore’s explanation might not matter.

Add to that the fact that he’s facing accusations of being a pedophile.

That’s not to say he can’t still win. Trump supporters are a perfect example of partisan voters willing to overlook literally any problem – even pedophilia – as long as it means voting for someone representing their party. That’s the danger of putting party over people, policy and country.

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Tim Peacock is the Managing Editor and founder of Peacock Panache and has worked as a civil rights advocate for over twenty years. During that time he’s worn several hats including leading on campus LGBT advocacy in the University of Missouri campus system, interning with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, and volunteering at advocacy organizations. You can learn more about him at his personal website.

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