- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers answered “yes” when asked in 1989 if homosexuals should have the same civil rights as heterosexuals, but she opposed repealing a Texas sodomy statute that criminalized private sexual behavior between homosexuals at the time.

Asked whether the city of Dallas had a responsibility to fund AIDS education and patient support services, she said “yes.”

The varied answers given in a questionnaire Miss Miers filled out for a homosexual rights group during her successful campaign for a Dallas City Council seat drew mixed reactions yesterday from interest groups.

Tom Minnery, vice president of public policy for the evangelical Christian pro-family group Focus on the Family, said his organization has no problem with the answers.

“We believe that gays and lesbians should have the same civil rights as non-gay men and women,” he said. “The issue is what you consider to be civil rights. We, for example, would disagree with gay activists who want marriage as a civil right.”

As for Miss Miers’ stance on Texas’ sodomy statute, Mr. Minnery said he agreed “the state of Texas has a right to criminalize sodomy as it wishes.”

In 2003, the Supreme Court struck down the prohibition on consensual homosexual sex by a 6-3 vote. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, whom President Bush has nominated Miss Miers to replace, voted with the majority.

Meanwhile, Joe Solmonese, the president of Human Rights Campaign, which describes itself as “the largest national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender political organization,” said Miss Miers’ answers in 1989 raise “the possibility that she is more fair-minded than our opponents are hoping.”

How the White House responds to news of the questionnaire “will be a good test of whether the extreme right wing has hijacked the process on nominating a Supreme Court Justice,” he said.

The questionnaire was from the Lesbian/Gay Coalition of Dallas. She attended a coalition meeting during the City Council race, but checked a box on the form indicating that she was not seeking the group’s endorsement.

Louise Young, a founding member of the coalition, recalled Miss Miers’ attendance when the group screened candidates.

“We weren’t really pleased with her responses, although they weren’t all bad,” said Miss Young, whose remarks were reported yesterday by the Associated Press. “I just wondered why she was here. … Usually, if you bothered to come, you wanted our endorsement.”

Asked in the questionnaire if qualified candidates should be denied city employment because they are homosexual, Miss Miers said it was her belief that “employers should be able to pick the best qualified person for any position to be filled considering all relevant factors.”

She also said she saw “the AIDS illness as a serious total community problem” and underlined the word “total.”

Mr. Minnery yesterday said Focus on the Family had no problem with the answer since “AIDS was a very important and new disease back then.”

Brian DeBose contributed to this report.

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