Setting the Record Straight

“What a sweet victory” said the Catholic League of Andrew McDonald’s defeat for Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court. To us here at FIC, it marked the limits of gay McCarthyism.

But gay McCarthyists are committing many backbites (defined by Wikipedia as “tale-bearing…to slander someone in their absence — to bite them behind their back”) on behalf of Justice McDonald. We want to correct one that was uttered against me on the floor of the State Senate by Beth Bye during her failed attempt to rescue McDonald’s confirmation.

In a moment that was caught by one of our live-tweets, Sen. Bye said:

“I remember Peter Wolfgang of the Family Institute testifying before Rep. Lawlor and Sen. McDonald in the Judiciary Committee and saying ‘How can I ever get a fair hearing from two practicing homosexuals?’”

Rubbish. It never happened. In fact, what did happen was the exact opposite of Sen. Bye’s misrepresentation.

Here is what I actually said, according to the Judiciary Committee Hearing Transcript for March 6, 2009 (emphasis added):

“To me, that would be the equivalent of my making an issue out of the fact that both of you are practicing homosexuals. If I were to make an issue out of that, that would be, it would be wrong, because it would be making an issue out of your motivation.

I would be saying, well it’s not really that they’re concerned about equality or that they’re concerned about civil rights. It’s that they’re homosexuals so they’re using their position to push their own agenda, and I think it would be wrong for me to say that to you…

I was actually testifying in favor of a religious liberty amendment to the same-sex marriage codification bill. But McDonald kept changing the subject. Here is the full context of my response, from a March 26, 2009 FIC Action email blast:

“When Sen. McDonald asked Peter what his personal views on homosexuality are, Peter turned the question back on him. He told McDonald–in a public hearing, in a packed room–that McDonald asking Peter that question (rather than sticking to the issue) would be like Peter saying that McDonald and Lawlor are both practicing homosexuals who are using their positions to further a personal agenda.

‘You drew blood,’ one observer told Peter afterwards (an observer not given to hyperbole). Another observer noted that after Peter’s exchange with McDonald, the head of Love Makes a Family moved to the back of the room, stood up and made eye-contact with the chairmen in what appeared to be a signal to cut off the questioning of Peter.” 

That observer must have been right about me drawing blood, since the moment apparently lodged itself in the mind of Beth Bye and came out of her mouth nine years later in a grossly distorted form.

Consider what a stake-in-the-heart this is to the central-but-utterly ridiculous argument of McDonald supporters that he was defeated for Chief Justice because he is gay. “I’ve seen the websites” proving it, Bye said in her Senate speech. But the only evidence has been an anonymous anti-Semitic website that no one ever heard of until The Courant deemed it front page news and some nine-year-old testimony by me, testimony which was the exact opposite of what Bye described.

One final note. Last week a freshman Democrat member of the Public Health Committee was publicly slapped down twice by two different members of his own party for badgering the head of a pro-life pregnancy center during the man’s public hearing testimony. “The purpose of a public hearing is to gather information, not to debate,” Chairwoman Terry Gerratana politely advised him.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when Sen. Gerratana said those words. As someone who cut my baby teeth at the state Capitol testifying before the Lawlor-and-McDonald-controlled Judiciary Committee, it was almost always a hostile debate with them, almost never a neutral gathering of information. That’s what they did to me in that 2009 hearing and they were even worse to Brian Brown in 2007.

That is the real reason why Andrew McDonald was defeated for Chief Justice this week. Not because he is gay and not even because he holds public policy positions with which we differ. Andrew McDonald was defeated for Chief Justice because he has a long history of abusing his power.

FIC has known it from firsthand experience going back many years. But we thank Beth Bye for inadvertently reminding us. As the Catholic League says, a sweet victory indeed.