The Story: In order to make sure gays and lesbians are adequately represented on the judicial bench, the state of California is requiring all judges and justices to reveal their sexual orientation, reports The Weekly Standard. The announcement was made in an internal memo sent to all California judges and justices.
The Background: For the past five years, the Administration Office of the Courts has been required to collect and release aggregate demographic data relative to the ethnicity, race, and gender of justices and judges. But because of a requirement added in 2011 by California state senator Ellen Corbett, the Democratic majority leader, the office has “expanded the collection and release of aggregate demographic data to include gender identification and sexual orientation.”
The result is that judges and justices must now reveal their “sexual orientation” in addition to their “race/ethnicity [and] gender identification.”
Why It Matters: Whether it is necessary to collect data on race, ethnicity, and gender is debatable, though those are all immutable factors of a person’s biology. Sexual orientation, however, has not only not been proven to have an exclusively biological cause, but empirical evidence has shown that some people are able to experience a change in sexual orientation.
“Many people struggle with how to make sense of sexual ethics if a person does not choose experiences of same-sex attraction,” notes Mark Yarhouse. “However, the Christian sexual ethic does not hinge on the causes of sexual orientation. Whether an impulse comes from within or is the result of one’s environment or, more likely, if an impulse is the result of some combination, Christianity teaches that believers evaluate their impulses in light of God’s revealed will for behavior and whether a pattern of behavior ought to characterize the Christian over time.”
This sort of distinction between orientation and behavior is not made clear in California’s requirement. The assumption is that a person with a homosexual orientation must identify as a homosexual and, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, is presumably engaging in homosexual behaviors. But what about the Christian judge who is struggling with a homosexual orientation but does not identify as homosexual? Why is it necessary for them to identify something so personal and potentially private in order to serve in the judiciary? And what is the consequence if they do not answer or do not tell the truth? Will they be forced to “out” themselves about their orientation?
Asking judges and future justices to reveal their sexual orientation is astoundingly intrusive and invasive and does nothing to further the interest of the citizens of California. All Californians—whether gay or straight—should oppose this requirement.