The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Alabama Justice Compares ‘Liberal’ Judges to Al-Qaeda

By Robert Steinback on November 4, 2010 - 1:10 pm, Posted in Neo-Confederate

Like mentor, like protégé.

Newly reelected Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker raised a few eyebrows even in this conservative state with his release last week of a radio campaign advertisement in which he said “liberal activist judges” like U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips should be listed with Al-Qaeda among America’s biggest security threats.

Why? Because of her September ruling that the U.S. military’s so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy is unconstitutional, which, if it survives legal challenges, would mean that gays could serve openly in the armed forces. (The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an indefinite stay of Phillips’ ruling on Nov. 1).

Parker’s disdain for so-called “liberal” judges is widely known. [See this Parker advertisement.] But his jaw-dropping claim that allowing gays to serve openly in the military rivals the danger of an international terrorist organization seemed to stretch hyperbole itself to the limit. It does, however, align with the dire predictions of numerous right-wing anti-gay organizations that lifting the ban on gays would lead to all manner of disruption for the military – a precipitous fall in reenlistments, a surge in gay attacks on straight service members, the widespread dismissal of chaplains who consider homosexuality sinful, even cross-dressing soldiers. This, the theory holds, would result in a decimated U.S. fighting capability, leaving the nation critically vulnerable to military defeat.

That nothing remotely of the sort has occurred in any of the 36 nations – including Canada, Great Britain, Australia and Israel – that allow gays to serve openly in the military is worth noting. Also of note are some of the nations that continue, along with the United States, to ban gays from military service, Cuba, North Korea and Iran among them.

But in Alabama, Parker’s views played well. He was easily reelected on Tuesday.

Parker’s views aren’t so surprising when one considers similarly homophobic pronouncements of his political mentor, ousted former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

In 2002, Moore wrote a lengthy concurrence in a custody case that was decided against a lesbian mother for reasons that had nothing to do with her orientation. [See this story.] Moore agreed she should have lost the appeal – in his case, simply because she was gay. “I write specially to state that the homosexual conduct of a parent … creates a strong presumption of unfitness that alone is sufficient justification for denying that parent custody of his or her own children or prohibiting the adoption of the children of others,” Moore wrote.

Homosexuality, Moore declared, is “abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature.” He continued, “[t]he State carries the power of the sword, that is, the power to prohibit conduct with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution. It must use that power to prevent the subversion of children toward this [homosexual] lifestyle, not to encourage a criminal lifestyle.”

He concluded, “Homosexual conduct by its very nature is immoral, and its consequences are inherently destructive to the natural order of society. Any person who engages in such conduct is presumptively unfit to have custody of minor children under the established laws of this State.”

Moore was removed from office after defying federal court orders to remove a 2-1/2 ton monument displaying the Ten Commandments he installed in the rotunda of that state’s judicial building (The Southern Poverty Law Center was involved in the civil suit against Moore that alleged that his actions vis-à-vis the monument violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S Constitution and the principle of separation of church and state). But Parker, who had been Moore’s spokesman and legal advisor, easily won Moore’s vacated seat in 2004. His views mimic those of his mentor – despising “liberal judges” who are “trying to take God out of public life” and ardently opposing gay marriage. Being linked at the time to known racist and neo-Confederate hate groups didn’t dampen Parker’s appeal (see Honoring the Confederacy).

Parker has not been shy about declaring his view that God’s law supersedes the authority of secular government – a view he and others use to militate against legalized gay rights in any form. Parker was the only dissenter in a case in which the Alabama Supreme Court awarded custody of a child to its maternal grandparents rather than its father, who had made little effort to parent the child during its first four years of life. Although there was no issue of homosexuality in that case, Parker in his dissent criticized a West Virginia Supreme Court ruling that awarded a child’s custody to the lesbian partner of the child’s deceased mother rather than the child’s natural grandparents because “inalienable rights, including parental rights, are given by God, who as the Creator determines their nature and limits.”

Gays already serve in the U.S. military – probably thousands in a military force numbering over two million members – but under DADT, they can be discharged if their orientation becomes known. President Obama supports ending the ban, but prefers that Congress rewrite the policy.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Hey folks, since it’s pretty mild discussion here: how many of you can remember what you were doing the day those activist judges killed 3,000 Americans? Oh wait, that never happened.

  • Frank

    Carter, if by Christian evanelism, do you mean witnessing for Christ? That’s not really the problem here. You can tell someone about Jesus without being a prat. I prefer to let actions speak louder than words, but the real problem is these extreme dispensationalist/pretribulation/reconstructionist/dominionist pseudo-Christians who have hijacked the voice of Protestant Christianity in America. Not all Evangelical Christians believe the same as they do. Most Christians, period, don’t believe the same as they do.
    Certainly not all Muslims are extreme nutjobs, either.
    We must be careful not to generalize so broadly.

    I’m a Catholic, by the way.

  • Carter

    Richard Mertens:

    You just said something SO VALUABLE in your post there I would want to underline it WITH DEEPEST INTENSITY!

    The issue that drove those individuals was the concept of Evangelism.

    There ARE some religions that do NOT practice Evangelistic approaches to the world around them. There are also -=individuals=- who are quite non-Evangelistic & let their actions speak for the desirability of their faith.

    However we have a very serious issue with both Islam & Christianity being extremely Evangelistic at their core.
    It will be the individual who makes the difference. The “Hellfire & Brimstone Baptist Minister and the angry, intolerant, power hungry Imam will lead us straight to Hell on Earth.

    I could easily see Jesus telling them both to “shut the Hell up”.

  • Richard Mertens

    It is not the judge at fault but a majority of voters who gave him permission to practice his brand of theocratic jurisprudence. Not until I lived amongst a group of fundamentalists did I believe with all my heart and soul that they would not blink to have those of us who fail their purity tests unemployed, hounded, financially ruined or even killed.

    For all the great things the United States has accomplished, there still follows us, like a fire in peat bog smoldering only to blow up time after time, vitriolic bigotry on a gold cross of Christianity gift wrapped in an American flag.

    Such basic and obvious disconnenct between being a professed follower of the Prince of Peace but to advocate violence sanctioned by the state is bizarre. For a man who professes that it is his God who takes precedent but uses only secular institutions to propagate anarchy, he is the man who has elevated the state of above all else.

  • Paen

    Imagine being a gay black and having to go before this judge.

  • Mitch Beales


    I’m sure you’re aware that Alabama has a long history of laws against loving relationships. The law against interracial marriage was only repealed 10 years ago and it took a referendum to do it since Alabama politicians are cowards. I have little doubt that Parker opposed the repeal of this law. What makes me optimistic is that fewer and fewer fools are willing to publicly oppose interracial marriage. When I was growing up in Mississippi one might be considered a fool for speaking in favor of it since that could lead racists to murder you. Slow as it is, “A Change IS Gonna Come.”

  • Frank

    This judge has taken a drastic leave of reality. What about the heterosexual soldiers who rape fellow soldiers or who rape citizens of other countries where they are stationed? This is a case of how those living in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. I really don’t see how allowing openly LGBT people to serve could possibly make the conduct of those enlisted worse than it is now.
    Personally, I don’t think ANYBODY should be serving in the military. Why allow yourself to become a brainwashed tool of the military-industrial complex and go and kill innocent people, decimate whole nations and allow the capitalist imperialist to take it over while possibly being killed, maimed or internally broken inside yourself?
    Carter, you are absolutely correct in your post. All the things they claim LGB people are up to, straight people do in ever greater numbers! It’s not about who you’re attracted to or how you identify, it’s about how you behave! LGB people are just as capable of having a long lasting meaningful relationship as heterosexuals are. The problem is with our vapid culture that has reduced sex to a purely physical recreational sport. That and the fact that people have no respect for themselves or anyone else.
    I myself am a bisexual and transsexual male. I choose not to partake in the ‘hook up’ culture because I find it very demeaning. I much prefer to have a commited relationship with someone, regardless of their chromosomal sex or gender identity. And I’m not the only one who is sick and tired of this stuff, either! There’s plenty of young people (I am 21) who are disillusioned with it, as well. Sadly, many of these people see no other way to have physical affection, usually because they are struggling with self-esteem issues and equate sex with love. Also, it’s hard to find a good man or woman who doesn’t just want to party or run around these days, which is something that everyone knows so I don’t really need to bring it up.
    But homophobes are so blinded by their own bigotry that they create whole alternate realities in order to justify their hatred. Same with all bigots. It’s quite tragic, really.
    We need more common sense in this world.

  • Difluoroethane

    Why is this listed under Neo-Confederate? I’m not saying Parker, Moore, etc., are _not_ neo-confetti types (I don’t know if they are or aren’t); it’s just that there is nothing in the article to indicate that they are. “Anti-Gay” would be a more appropriate category, methinks.

  • IludiumPhosdex

    Once again, we are reminded of the famous remark Hank Greenspun (as in the Las Vegas Sun) directed at Sen. Joseph McCarthy during his appearence at a “patriotic” rally in Sin City around 1952, in which Greenspun was referred to (howbeit in error, it turns out) as a “Communist” when McCarthy had meant to say “convict” (having been charged with violating the Neutrality Act for supplying weapons in aid of the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, but the sentence was stayed):

    “Show us your facts!”

  • Carter

    “He concluded, “Homosexual conduct by its very nature is immoral, and its consequences are inherently destructive to the natural order of society. Any person who engages in such conduct is presumptively unfit to have custody of minor children under the established laws of this State.”

    Heterosexual or homosexual promiscuity [by married individuals especially] can ruin loving relationships and marriages. If we would look beyond sex for just a moment, the love engendered in ANY relationship is wholesome.
    As a society Americans have a grotesquely high divorce rate. What does that say about the behavior of heterosexual marriages? Our society is deeply immersed in sex and narcissism. That is the essence of marketing, & has been for decades.
    What we seem to overlook is destructive promiscuity [outside of adolescent experimentation] is not the exclusive realm of the gay man or woman.

    So if we were to set aside the sexual aspect of any relationship, how can anyone realistically say that love is immoral?
    What is alluded to is the TYPE of sex. This quote (above) is directed at the type of sex; NOT the relationship.

    So is it immoral for a heterosexual couple to engage in sex beyond that which is dedicated toward procreation? Is it immoral for a heterosexual couple to engage in sex for a simple expression of love?

    The argument against homosexuality is a straw-man because it does not deal with love. It deals with sex.

    Here we have the observation that simply because the marriage is a marriage between a man & a woman it is a healthy one for a child to be brought up in……
    With a 50% divorce rate how can anyone justify the values of marriage based upon the gender of the partners.

    Anyone who has read my posts through out some months knows that…… I am a heterosexual, generally libertarian politically who has been married w/ children for 25yrs. & I strongly do NOT believe that logic is being utilized in this position on the morals of the gay individual.

  • skinnyminny

    These right-wing people never ceases to amaze me. It appears that they say one thing, while doing something else. It’s also amazing that the people are not picking up on all of this. What is so disturbing about this, they target people and label them, then their followers take it from there.

    Most of us on the west coast know what’s up, and that cost some people an electoral win – i.e. Angle, Whitman…. Let’s keep it real, they say they are anti-immigration, which, I believe, to be targeting people from Latin America (Latinos/Latinas), even ones with TPS from El Salvador. They are yelling that they don’t want Sharia Law and voted on this in Oklahoma. Angle made comment while speaking to Latino students that she was concerned about people coming from the Northern border… Well, folks, this is the truth, San Diego County (in Calif) has the highest number of refugees – Burmese, Somalis, Iraqis, Bhutanese….In fact, it is said that San Diego county has become our country’s largest resettlement area for refugees – the latest arrest, 3 Somalis from San Diego was allegedly charged in our courts aiding a Somali terror group. But, let the right-wing tell it, they are saying that they are coming across the Mexican border! Why do they need to come across the border, when they are already settled in San Diego with refugee status. And yes, they do wear their burkas…

    Now, I don’t have a problem with immigration. But, people need to see how the politicians are using immigration to score political points. The Congressmen from San Diego counties, Duncan Hunter, allegedly says to deport children of illegal immigrants. Brian Bilbray, allegedly says that you can use clothing to identify illegal immigrants. Darrell Issa, allegedly says he wants secure borders and is against illegal immigration. But take note, the illegal immigrants they usually refer to is that of Hispanic/Latino background.