Amy Coney Barrett urged to step back from LGBTQ+ Supreme Court case over anti-gay beliefs

A photo of supreme court justice Amy Coney Barrett wearing a black suit jacket

Supreme Court justice Amy Coney Barrett has been urged to back away from an LGBTQ+ rights case over concerns her “anti-gay” faith makes her discriminatory. 

Former members of Barrett’s secretive faith group, the People of Praise, have said her continued membership with the Christian group has resulted in her influencing policies against LGBTQ+ people, the Guardian reported. 

“I don’t believe that someone in her position, who is a member of this group, could put those biases aside, especially in a decision like the one coming up,” said former member, Maura Sullivan.

The former members of the group, who have formed a network of “survivors”, have spoken out ahead of the 5 December court date. 

In this case, the Supreme Court will decide whether private business owners have a right to refuse services to potential clients based on their sexual orientation. 

It follows Christian website developer Lori Smith, claiming an anti-discrimination law in Colorado violated her right to free speech over same-sex marriage as she was forced to “create messages that go against my deeply held beliefs” and the law states she can’t turn away same-sex couples.

According to the former members, Barrett’s “lifelong and continued” membership in the People of Praise makes her too biased to fairly adjudicate the case. 

Amy Coney Barrett was trustee at private schools with anti-gay policies

Barrett served for nearly three years on the board of Trinity Schools Inc – a group of three private Christian schools in Indiana, Minnesota and Virginia – from 2015.

The board reportedly makes it clear LGBTQ+ teachers aren’t welcome, and effectively bar the children of same-sex couples.

A faculty guide published by the board in 2015 named “homosexual acts” as “blatant sexual immorality”, and said they had “no place in the culture of Trinity Schools”.

Maura Sullivan, 46, was raised in the People of Praise community in South Bend, Indiana and identified as bisexual. She said the group didn’t allow her to be around her sister and forced her to be cut off from her family.

After Sullivan and her parents ended their membership they have managed to heal their relationship.

‘Deeply entrenched anti-gay values’

Another former member, Kevin Connolly, said: “The People of Praise has deeply entrenched, anti-gay values that negatively affect the lives of real people, including vulnerable youth.

“These values show up in the everyday policies of the People of Praise and their schools.

“They are policies that are way outside the mainstream, and most Americans would be disturbed by them.”

Meanwhile, a former student at a Trinity School, Tom Henry, has been open about being discouraged from talking about his sexuality. 

He also recalled asking the director at the time, Jon Balsbaugh – who is now president of Trinity Schools – about an inquiry from a parent of a gay child. 

“He said there was a policy, and it was basically a public stance that they don’t support gay marriage or people transitioning,” the 24-year-old said.

“I just remember being so shocked because he blatantly said it.”

Barrett has responded to the backlash to confirm her personal religious beliefs won’t interfere with her abilities to be an unbiased judge.