8 Horrible Things Antonin Scalia Said About Gay People

A look back on the late Supreme Court justice's legacy.

Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia passed away in his sleep yesterday at the age of 79, ending a career as perhaps the most overtly homophobic judge in America.

In his thirty years on the bench, Scalia stood firmly in favor of bans on homosexual sex and opposed both marriage equality and laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination.

Of course, Scalia once revealed “I have friends that I know, or very much suspect, are homosexual.”

In a New Yorker interview from 2013, gay right activist Richard Socarides asked Scalia what he thought his legacy on gay issues would be after he was gone.

“Frankly, I don’t care,” he responded. “Maybe the world is spinning toward a wider acceptance of homosexual rights, and here’s Scalia, standing athwart it. At least standing athwart it as a constitutional entitlement. But I have never been custodian of my legacy. When I’m dead and gone, I’ll either be sublimely happy or terribly unhappy.”

I’d say he is the custodian of his legacy—since he’s the one who shaped it.

Before you tell me to not speak ill of the dead (which is something of a misnomer, BTW), relax—I’m not going to.

I’m simply going share statements Scalia made himself. After all, we shouldn’t forget that legacy, right?

Here are seight things the late Antonin Scalia has said about gay people.


1. America doesn’t like homosexuals.

When the court took on Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, Scalia argued the state’s sodomy ban was constitutional because some people find homosexuality immoral.

“Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home,” he wrote.

“They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.”

Fortunately that was the dissenting opinion and the Court ruled bans on homosexual sex were unconstitutional.

2. Homosexuality is like murder.

Romer v. Evans, from 1996, challenged Colorado’s ban on anti-discrimination laws protecting gay people. LGBT advocates argued the ban was tantamount to legislated hatred.

“Of course it is our moral heritage that one should not hate any human being or class of human beings,” Scalia opined. “But I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible—murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals—and could exhibit ’animus’ toward such conduct. ”

3. Homosexuality is like bestiality, incest and drug addiction.

WASHINGTON - MAY 20:  U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia testifies before the House Judiciary Committee's Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee on Capitol Hill May 20, 2010 in Washington, DC. Scalia and fellow Associate Justice Stephen Breyer testified to the subcommittee about the Administrative Conference of the United States.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In Lawrence, Scalia admitted the ban “undoubtedly imposes constraints on liberty. So do laws prohibiting prostitution, recreational use of heroin, and, for that matter, working more than 60 hours per week in a bakery.”

He also insisted the law was important because it furthered “the belief of its citizens that certain forms of sexual behavior are immoral and unacceptable… [like] fornication, bigamy, adultery, adult incest, bestiality, and obscenity.”

4. Homosexuality is like pedophilia.

In a speech to law students in December, Scalia insisted the courts shouldn’t try to protect minorities, because no one knows what a minority is.

“What minorities deserve protection? What? It’s up to me to identify deserving minorities?” he asked.

“What about pederasts? What about child abusers? This is a deserving minority,” he joked. “Nobody loves them.”

5. Gay people could have heterosexual sex if they wanted to.

In his dissent in Romer, Scalia suggested the solution to a ban on gay sex was for gay people to just start having straight sex.

“[The law] doesn’t say you can’t have any sexual intimacy. It says you cannot have sexual intimacy with a person of the same sex.”

Later, he insisted the Texas law wasn’t discriminatory because it affected everyone. No one can have gay sex—not even straight people.

“Men and women, heterosexuals and homosexuals, are all subject to [Texas’] prohibition of deviate sexual intercourse with someone of the same sex.”

6. The gay agenda has taken over the Supreme Court.

In his Lawrence dissent, Scalia declared that the high court had “largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda.”

He warned that gay people are hard at work eliminating the “moral opprobrium” attached to homosexuality. And, actually, I’d agree with that.

But, Scalia added, “It is clear… that the court has taken sides in the culture war, departing from its role of assuring, as neutral observer, that the democratic rules of engagement are observed.”

7. Gay people make bad parents.

When the court took on the Defense of Marriage act in 2013’s United States v. Windsor, Justice Elena Kagan asked attorneys for the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group how allowing same-sex couples to marry would hurt straight couples.

They couldn’t come up with an answer, so Scalia provided one for them.

“Let me give you one concrete thing,” he said during oral arguments. “If you redefine marriage to include same-sex couples, you must permit adoption by same-sex couples, and there’s considerable disagreement among sociologists as to what the consequences of raising a child in a single-sex family [are]. Some States do not do not permit adoption by same-sex couples for that reason.”

Not really: Study after study has shown children of same-sex couples perform no worse than their hetero-raised peers (and may even do better).

in a study released last year, University of Oregon sociology professor Ryan Light wrote, “consensus is overwhelming in terms of there being no difference in children who are raised by same-sex or different- sex parents.”

8. LGBT people don’t have a right to our identities.

Marriage Equality at the Supreme Court
Paul Morigi/Getty Images
Last year, in Obergefell v. Hodges, Scalia attacked the majority opinion that marrying the person you love was a right shared by all Americans, gay or straight.

“If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,’ I would hide my head in a bag.”

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.
@ItsDanAvery