The siren of Baton Rouge
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Not many people have heard of Kyle Duncan, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump campaign buys full page ads in Miami newspapers ahead of Dem debates Trump administration's 'forced diplomacy' with Iran isn't working Roy Moore trails Republican field in Alabama 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 CollinsSusan Collins: Trump's 'she's not my type' defense is 'extremely bizarre' The Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations Hillicon Valley: Senate bill would force companies to disclose value of user data | Waters to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency | GOP divided on election security bills | US tracking Russian, Iranian social media campaigns MORE (R-Maine), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerMcSally on Moore running for Senate again: 'This place has enough creepy old men' Hillicon Valley: Senate sets hearing on Facebook's cryptocurrency plans | FTC reportedly investigating YouTube over children's privacy | GOP senator riles tech with bill targeting liability shield | FAA pushed to approve drone deliveries Senate panel advances bill to protect government devices against cyber threats MORE (R-Colo.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiPressure builds to secure health care data Trump plan to strip public land conservation fund gets bipartisan pushback GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks MORE (R-Alaska) and Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThis week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary 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.