Louisiana Supreme Court Justice: Same-Sex Adoption Puts Kids At Risk For Sexual Assault

Jeff Hughes, associate justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court
Jeff Hughes, associate justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court

We’ve seen a lot of ignorant and downright stupid reactions from state officials in the wake of the federal Supreme Court declaring marriage equality the law of the land. But a dissenting opinion from an associate justice on the Louisiana Supreme Court may rank as one of the worst yet. This guy strongly implied that same-sex couples should be shut out of the adoption process because it would put kids at risk for being sexually assaulted.

Jeff Hughes, associate justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court (from Hughes' Facebook)
Jeff Hughes, associate justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court (from Hughes’ Facebook)

On Tuesday, the state supreme court issued a 6-1 opinion acknowledging that the federal Supreme Court’s decision effectively voided a state constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex marriage. The original case concerned the adoption of Chastity Brewer’s biological son by Brewer’s partner, Angela Costanza. The opinion acknowledged that with the federal Supreme Court decision had effectively resolved the issue in favor of the Lafayette couple.

That didn’t sit very well with the lone dissenter, Jeff Hughes, the associate justice from the 5th Supreme Court District–essentially, the Baton Rouge area. In a two-paragraph dissent located on page 11 of the documents related to the opinion, Hughes wrote that the primary purpose of marriage was to “provide children with a safe and stable environment in which to grow.” Since marriage is “the epitome of civilization,” it is not something that can be “changed by legalisms.” Standard religious right shibboleth–no court has the power to redefine marriage.

Hughes then wrote something so outrageous that it has to be reproduced in full to be believed.

“This case involves an adoption. The most troubling prospect of same sex marriage is the adoption by same sex partners of a young child of the same sex. Does the 5-4 decision of the United States Supreme Court automatically legalize this type of adoption?”

I hope I’m reading this wrong. I really am. Hughes seems to all but announce that same-sex couples shouldn’t be allowed to adopt kids because gays and lesbians are pedophiles. This isn’t just a dog whistle. This is a dog whistle being blown into a megaphone. If that wasn’t bad enough, he seems to be accusing Kennedy and the four liberals on the federal Supreme Court of opening the door for kids to be endangered by effectively legalizing same-sex adoption.

According to the New Civil Rights Movement, Hughes’ disregard for the law shouldn’t be all that surprising. When he ran for this seat in 2012, he aired an ad declaring that he would be a no-questions-asked conservative–even though such ads violated the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct, which explicitly forbids judges and candidates for judgeships from making “any statement that would reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness” of a proceeding in Louisiana. Watch here.

Hughes’ opinion was so outrageous that it drew a public rebuke from fellow justice Greg Guidry. He noted that Hughes was effectively saying that state courts are not bound to respect federal Supreme Court decisions–a notion that is patently false. Guidry also noted that Hughes cited no legal authority for his rant “because there is none.” He was also aghast at Hughes’ apparent unawareness of the case at hand–the adoption of a boy by two lesbians. Chris Otten, chairman of Forum for Equality Louisiana, was equally appalled that Hughes was “basically accusing gay couples of being pedophiles,” and applauded Guidry for smacking Hughes down.

I know, I know–this is just a dissenting opinion. But the idea that a judge on any court at any level could smear LGBT people in this way is an embarrassment to both the state of Louisiana and the nation. In fact, it’s on the same level of infamy and stupidity as Clarence Thomas’ outrageous suggestion that slavery before the Civil War and internment during World War II didn’t amount to a loss of dignity. Now that takes some effort.

If there is ever any doubt that judicial elections do indeed matter, this bilge from Hughes should eliminate that doubt. Somebody needs to step up and ensure Hughes is fired at the ballot box in 2022–that is, if Hughes doesn’t have the decency to resign first.

Darrell is a 30-something graduate of the University of North Carolina who considers himself a journalist of the old school. An attempt to turn him into a member of the religious right in college only succeeded in turning him into the religious right's worst nightmare--a charismatic Christian who is an unapologetic liberal. His desire to stand up for those who have been scared into silence only increased when he survived an abusive three-year marriage. You may know him on Daily Kos as Christian Dem in NC. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook. Click here to buy Darrell a Mello Yello.

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