Press

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Denounces Bush Recess Appointment of Pickering on Eve of Martin Luther King Day Weekend

Date: 
January 16, 2004

MEDIA CONTACT:
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
media@theTaskForce.org
646.358.1465

Washington D.C., January 16, 2004 - The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force today denounced President Bush's recess appointment of Judge Charles W. Pickering Sr. to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, announced this afternoon. As a segregationist Mississippi state legislator in an all-white legislature in the 1960s, Pickering opposed measures aimed at expanding voting rights for African Americans. More recently, as a federal district court judge, Pickering has continued to display indifference or outright hostility to issues of racial equality. He opposes reproductive choice. In a 1984 speech before the Mississippi Southern Baptist Convention he said that society has been degraded by such things as pornography, homosexuality and divorce.

Following is a statement from National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman on the appointment of Charles Pickering:

"Wednesday, in a bald attempt to win African American votes at the expense of gay Americans, the White House told the media of their plans to unveil a $1.5 billion dollar plan to promote marriage (as if the African American and gay communities are mutually exclusive communities). Yesterday, the President laid a wreath at the tomb of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Today, through a recess appointment, he anointed Charles Pickering to a U.S. Court of Appeals, an individual who has spent his life opposing everything Dr. King stood and fought for. This kind of hypocrisy is both breathtaking and appalling. We stand in solidarity with the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP of Mississippi and national NAACP, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and all fair-minded Americans in opposition to this action."

BRIEF BACKGROUND:

Judge Charles W. Pickering Sr.

Nominated to: Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit
Status of nomination: Defeated in committee 3/14/02; Renominated 1/7/03
Voted out of Committee 10/02/2003; Failed cloture vote 10/30/2003, 54 to 43
Appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi by President George H.W. Bush, 1990.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.