- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 4, 2005

ASSOCIATED PRESS

President Bush’s nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was a leader in an effort to persuade the nation’s largest lawyers’ group to reconsider its pro-choice stance.

But on another hot-button social issue, Harriet Miers met with the Lesbian/Gay Coalition of Dallas in the 1980s when running for the city council and impressed one of its activists by saying she favored equal civil rights for homosexuals, though she did not seek the group’s endorsement.

“Usually, if you bothered to come, you wanted our endorsement,” said Louise Young, a founding member of the group, of Miss Miers’ decision to come to a coalition meeting and give some, though not all, of the group’s preferred answers on a questionnaire. “She came to talk to us anyway. I thought that was very odd.”

Miss Young added: “She didn’t seem like a right-wing nut or anything like that.”

On abortion, Miss Miers, as president of the Texas State Bar in 1993, urged the American Bar Association to put the abortion issue to a referendum of its full membership.

She favored a neutral stance for the ABA, and questioned whether the group should “be trying to speak for the entire legal community” on an issue that she said “has brought on tremendous divisiveness” within the organization.

The ABA’s policy-making body rejected the Texas proposal to survey the group’s 360,000 members.

“This was not about abortion. This was about the appropriateness of the American Bar’s taking a position,” said Dallas lawyer Darrell Jordan, who worked with Miss Miers on the effort, emphasizing that it was not on the morality of abortion.

In answering the survey from the Dallas homosexual group, Miss Miers said “Yes” to the survey question, “Do you believe that gay men and lesbians should have the same civil rights as non-gay men and women?”

She was noncommittal on several other questions, saying, for example, that she would be willing to discuss a law prohibiting discrimination in housing or public accommodations against people who had AIDS or were HIV-positive.

“We weren’t really pleased with her responses, although they weren’t all bad,” Miss Young said.

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