The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’ largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today hailed President Obama’ selection of United States Solicitor General Elena Kagan as the nominee for the opening on the United States Supreme Court created by the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens.

“We applaud President Obama for choosing Elena Kagan to become our nation’ next U.S. Supreme Court Justice,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “The U.S. Supreme Court decides cases that intimately affect the lives of all Americans. We are confident that Elena Kagan has a demonstrated understanding and commitment to protecting the liberty and equality of all Americans, including LGBT Americans.”
Issues that are critical to the LGBT community may reach the Supreme Court in the next few years, including issues related to marriage equality, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, the Defense of Marriage Act, and the new federal hate crimes law. When issues like these come to the Supreme Court, it is vital that we have fair-minded judges to rule on these cases. Obama nominated her to be his Solicitor General in Jan. 2009, but she supported a ban on military recruiters on campus over Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as dean of the Harvard Law School. The school’ anti-discrimination policy mandates any employer who actively recruits on campus cannot discriminate against a perspective employee based on their sexual orientation. Kagan reluctantly allowed recruiters back on campus after Washington threatened to withhold federal funding to the school, but she opined against DADT in an Oct. 2003 letter.

“This action causes me deep distress, as I know it does a great many others,” she wrote. “I abhor the military’ discriminatory recruitment policy. The importance of the military to our society-and the extraordinary service that members of the military provide to all the rest of us – makes this discrimination more, not less, repugnant.”

Kagan further describes Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as a “profound wrong-a moral injustice of the first order,” but she herself has faced persistent speculation over her sexual orientation. The White House dismissed Ben Domenech’ assertion last month Kagan’ nomination would have pleased the president’ base because she would have been the “first openly gay justice.”

In addition, HRC commends President Obama for his commitment to diversity and expanding the number of women on the Court. Diversity on the Court brings a broader view of the way that the law affects real people, including LGBT people. Once confirmed, Elena Kagan would be the fourth woman to serve on our nation’ highest court and would be the third woman sitting on the current Supreme Court, marking the highest representation of women on the Court in its history.