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Princeton student who challenged Scalia over anti-gay opinions only came out one month ago

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
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PRINCETON, N.J. — The university freshman who challenged U. S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia about his comparison of laws banning homosexuality to laws banning bestiality and murder, only declared his sexual orientation publicly a month ago.

During a lecture at Princeton University on Monday, San Francisco native Duncan Hosie asked Scalia why he equates laws banning sodomy with those barring bestiality and murder.

Duncan Hosie
Image via MSNBC.

Hosie said he was offended by some of Scalia’s written opinions on cases related to gay rights, and prefaced his question by quoting sections of Scalia’s opinions in Romer v. Evans and Lawrence v. Texas, Hosie asked:

“Justice Scalia, I’m gay, and as somebody who is gay I find these comparisons extraordinarily offensive,” he said.

“I think there is a fundamental difference between arguing the constitution does not protect gay sex, which is a defensible and legitimate legal position I disagree with, and comparing gays to people who commit murder or engage in bestiality. Do you have any regret or shame for drawing these comparisons you did in your dissents?”

Scalia responded, “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against these other things? It’s a reduction to the absurd … I don’t think it’s necessary, but I think it’s effective.”

Scalia added he was surprised he hadn’t been able to persuade Hosie of his opinion.

Hosie said he decided to ask his question in part because he has spent a substantial amount of time studying the Constitution and thinking about these constitutional legal issues through a class he attends taught by Princeton University’s Provost, Christopher Eisgruber, who clerked for retired U. S. Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens.

The Daily Princetonian reported that Hosie had only come out to his family just a little over one month ago:

“It was hard for me to ask that question, particularly given that accepting the fact that I’m gay hasn’t been easy,” he said in an interview with The Daily Princetonian.

He said he struggled with his orientation before coming out to his family, and he said reading Scalia’s negative comparisons while preparing his question made his struggle more difficult.

He had not originally intended to question Scalia’s opinion on homosexuality but decided to ask it in the end because he found Scalia’s language to be “so offensive as a whole.”

In the process of asking Scalia his question, Hosie outed himself publicly to the 800 people in the auditorium which, along with the coverage by the Associated Press and those who saw his appearance on MSNBC Tuesday night, noted the paper.

“Gay people are here; we aren’t going away,” he said. “It’s really unacceptable no matter who you are — whether you are a random person or a Supreme Court justice — to treat us in a way that I think is unfortunate.” Hosie said.

“I think the Constitution should be interpreted through a framework in which we look at the abstract moral principles that the founders laid out, and I disagree with Scalia in the sense of what it means to be faithful to the text.”

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