The siren of Baton Rouge
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Not many people have heard of Kyle Duncan, President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff: Surveillance warrant docs show that Nunes memo 'misrepresented and distorted these applications' Chicago detention facility under investigation following allegations of abuse of migrant children Ex-Trump aide: Surveillance warrants are 'complete ignorance' and 'insanity' MORE’s nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. That is, unless you have heard his mesmerizing siren song. Born, raised, and educated in Louisiana, Mr. Duncan has made a career for himself luring people toward the rocky cliffs of his dangerous ideology.

We have seen this in his teachings, his writings, and his practice.

Just look at the wreckage his advocacy has caused for the lives of so many LGBT Americans. Duncan prevented a child in Louisiana from getting a birth certificate listing his two dads as his legal parents. His legal court briefs have enthusiastically promoted junk science calling transgender people “delusional.” He’s repeatedly claimed that children are harmed by having gay or lesbian parents and believes businesses should have an absolute right to refuse gay and lesbian customers. Kyle Duncan may not have been caught on video stating that transgender children are evidence that “Satan’s plan is working,” and he may couch his anti-LGBT views in the beguiling language of religious liberty, but the results are still the same. 

Duncan’s defenders will tell you that there is no reason why his nomination should cause any alarm. They will say that he has simply been fulfilling a lawyer’s highest calling: zealous advocacy on behalf of his clients – even if those clients include a company that wants to block your access to birth control, or voter suppression enthusiasts in North Carolina.

Don’t be fooled. Duncan’s clients chose him to advance their causes because Duncan shares their fundamental belief that equality for LGBT people is incompatible with the moral values they believe should govern our country. And now, by nominating Duncan for a lifetime appointment to a federal appellate court, President Trump has chosen Duncan to advance this administration’s anti-civil rights agenda long after the President has vacated the White House. 

Duncan’s nomination has moved to the Senate floor, where a handful of Senators hold an immense amount of power over the fate of his confirmation. Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) rightly bemoaned the fact that Duncan’s nomination had been put forth by those in Washington seeking to advance their agenda, bypassing other qualified candidates from the legal community of Louisiana. While Kennedy initially stood up to pressure from the White House, he appears to have been brought back into line by his party.  But there are other senators, like Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report — Russia furor grips Washington Overnight Health Care: Novartis pulls back on drug price hikes | House Dems launch Medicare for All caucus | Trump officials pushing ahead on Medicaid work requirements Senate panel to vote next week on banning 'gag clauses' in pharmacy contracts MORE (R-Maine), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerMcConnell calls for Senate hearings on Russia sanctions GOP seeks separation from Trump on Russia Republican bill aims to deter NATO members from using Russian pipeline MORE (R-Colo.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThis week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick McConnell: Senate to confirm Kavanaugh by Oct. 1 MORE (R-Alaska) and Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerHistory argues for Democratic Senate gains Senate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Jacky Rosen hits Dean Heller over health care in first negative ad MORE (R-Nev.), who also have an important role to play in terms of deciding whether this is the kind of nominee that their constituents believe should be given a lifetime appointment to the federal bench. 

The mythological sirens were attractive, but dangerous. Kyle Duncan may seem like a pragmatic, soft-spoken lawyer, but in reality, there’s a shipwreck dead ahead. We are counting on the fact that there are still enough men and women in the Senate who will put their country ahead of their party, and will stop the nomination of Duncan before it is too late. 

Sharon McGowan is the Director of Strategy at Lambda Legal, the nation’s oldest legal organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV.