Connecticut Senate Votes Down Openly Gay State Supreme Court Nominee
After weeks of what the Hartford Courant called a “bitter and emotional battle,” Justice Andrew McDonald’s race to be the next Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court ended when a 19-16 vote against him was tallied.
Noticeably absent from the vote was Democratic Senator Gayle Slossberg of Milford. After her private “clashes” with McDonald became public during McDonald’s March confirmation hearing, Slossberg decided to remove herself from the vote, citing a conflict of interest. This now left the chamber with 35 voting members — 18 Republicans and 17 Democrats.
By Tuesday afternoon, all votes had been counted. Every Republican senator and one Democratic senator voted to not approve McDonald as Supreme Court Chief Justice.
Governor Dannel P. Malloy, a close friend and political ally of McDonald, has publicly stated many times that he believes the Republican party was biased against McDonald from day one because he is an openly gay man. However, the Republican Senate has repeatedly and adamantly denied these claims, arguing that McDonald’s sexuality was never discussed during his nomination.
Perhaps it wasn’t McDonald’s sexuality that played a part in his rejection at all. Many people argue that it was instead his stance on capital punishment that alienated the Republican party and one member of his own party, moderate Democratic Senator Joan Hartley of Waterbury. Hartley, a strong supporter of capital punishment, claims she feared McDonald would attempt to eliminate the controversial practice if he became Chief Justice.
The evenly divided chamber has been vocal about their party’s opinion of McDonald. Democrats in the Senate argue McDonald is an Ivy League-educated man who has held positions in all three branches of government and served for more than five years on the Supreme Court, making him a well-qualified candidate for the position. Republicans, however, believe he is a far-leaning, left-wing liberal who allows his personal beliefs to strongly dictate how he votes on important matters.
As for McDonald, he stated immediately after the vote that, “In this turbulent personal moment, I don’t know what the future holds for me. I do know, however, that I will face it secure in the love and affection of my husband, Charles, and an amazing group of friends and family that I cherish, never more than I do today.”
Though it seems we’ll never know the true reason behind how or why any member of the Senate voted, the outcome has drawn a lot of media attention, with many claiming that openly gay men and women are still discriminated against.