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Brian Hagedorn Would Not Rule Objectively For Me On Supreme Court

March 27, 2019

Over the past months when thinking about the Wisconsin State Supreme Court election one image keeps coming to mind.  Pick any of my high school years as I was slammed into the lockers while being labeled some very vile terms from the bullies who perceived my sexuality.  After that image flickers through my mind I silently ask a question.  Why would anyone desire the type of person, who targeted and bullied me about being gay in high school, to now be elected to the state court?

Wisconsin is facing one of those moments next week when we will again write a historical definition of who we are, and what we stand for.  When voters cast a ballot between Judge Lisa Neubauer and Judge Brian Hagedorn we will make a statement about our values.

While every court election is about judicial philosophy and temperament for the bench this year the central issues are the blog writings and views of Hagedorn.  What has come to light is most concerning when placing his thoughts into the construct of what a judge’s role is when hearing and deciding cases.

At the heart of the matter are Hagedorn’s clearly stated and unrelenting bigotries and biases.  While all of the slurs and demeaning statements from his writings have raised alarms, for me the most personally concerning are those which were directed toward the gay community.  He wrote that efforts to promote respect for members of the gay community through gay pride events could somehow create “a hostile work environment for Christians.”  Put aside for a moment the illogical gymnastics one would need to perform to reach such a conclusion.

Instead ponder the outcome of such a troubling statement.  If courts actually gave weight to what Hagedorn believes then anti-discrimination laws of all kinds could be upended.  For me and you!  The same type of red flag goes up when learning he helped establish a school that permits the firing of teachers and the expulsion of students based on their sexuality.

No one can place his blog writings and views as simply the musings of a younger Hagedorn.  No one can claim he is now a ‘more mature and reflective’ individual who is capable of being objective about gay legal issues on the state court.  Over the recent years he has been paid over $3,000 to give speeches to Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal organization. The alliance has supported criminalizing sodomy and unsuccessfully argued for European laws requiring transgender people to get sterilized to obtain identity documents listing the names and genders they wanted.  They have rightfully been listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.

As a gay man I have watched over the decades as real and astounding progress has been made in both legal and societal ways.  It is not a small thing to know that in many high schools now it is not uncommon for a gay teenage couple to dance at a prom.  That is a great leap from being pounded into a locker and called names.  Those forward-leaning actions over the years took place, in part, due to an active judiciary which worked for the personal liberties and civil rights of gay people.

Wisconsin voters need to place the bigotry from Hagedorn in the same perspective as the ‘no Irish need apply’ signs, or the ‘whites only’ water bubblers.   There can be no confusing the fact that anti-gay stances must be as unacceptable on the Supreme Court today as we would expect concerning bigotries about race or creed.

I do not need to agree with a judge’s judicial philosophy, though I prefer a candidate to view constitutions as living documents.  But I must demand candidates for the court respect me, and not see me as an aberration.   I can not abide a candidate who thinks his religious point of view is of a higher calling then my constitutional foundations.  It is for that reason Brian Hagedorn is not receiving my vote for election to the high court.

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