WI Judge To Defendant: “I Think You Were Born Gayer Than A Sweet-Smelling Jockstrap”
May 10, 2011 1:10 pm ET by Carlos Maza
A county judge in Wisconsin has come under fire for attempting to link homosexuality to pedophilia in court Monday. While sentencing Delton Gorges for child molestation, Waupaca County Judge Philip Kirk challenged the defendant’s claim to heterosexuality:
I was looking for it here, Mr. Gorges, in one of the three reports I got, I couldn’t find it, but it described you as, or your self-description, as a heterosexual. That’s about the only piece of information in these three reports that I would correct as patently incorrect. Listening to all of this stuff, it seems to me that... if you give [a] $10 bill to somebody and you buy $4 worth of goods, you ask for 2 threes back or one six. I think you were born gayer than a sweet-smelling jock strap, and I think that if anyone believes that in the last 10 years or 15 years, all of a sudden you developed an interest in homosexuality and young boys, then, uh, I must have looked ravishing in my prom dress this year. It is just wrong.
Though the followed up his comments with some empathetic remarks about the impact of homophobia on closeted gay adults, the implied link between homosexuality and pedophilia did not go unnoticed:
“Sometimes people don't say the right thing, but they potentially mean well, “said Andrew DeBaker, Co-Chair of New Pride. “The thing that concerns me is the linking homosexuality, linking being gay with, in this case, child molestation.”
It’s highly disturbing to hear a judge, who openly admits he relies on his “own experience” when sentencing defendants, reinforce one of the most cherished smears of anti-gay groups. The link between homosexuality and pedophilia is, of course, patently false. Still, the repetition of the myth can have a significant impact on shaping public discourse about LGBT equality:
“His remarks have impact. They have impact on the victims, and the victims’ family. They have impact on the community and they obviously have impact on the offender,” said Janine Geske, former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice.
Geske, who's now a Marquette University professor, says judges have a powerful and influential position. And with it comes certain responsibility.
“Somehow it seemed to compare homosexuality with pedophilia and I think his remarks are unfortunate,” said Geske.
LGBT activists have done incredible work in advancing the legal community’s understanding of LGBT issues, but incidents like these serve as painful reminders that a tremendous amount of work remains to be done.