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Trump Taps Ken Paxton’s Rabidly Anti-LGBTQ Assistant For Federal Judge

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By John Wright

President Donald Trump has tapped a rabidly anti-LGBTQ attorney and activist to serve as federal judge in Texas.

Jeff Mateer, who currently serves as Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s first assistant, was among 16 judicial nominees unveiled by Trump on Thursday morning.

Mateer joined Paxton’s office in 2016 after spending six years as general counsel at First Liberty (previously the Liberty Institute), which bills itself as the nation’s largest legal organization dedicated to protecting “religious freedom.”

First Liberty frequently represents individuals and businesses accused of anti-LGBT discrimination in high-profile cases, including an Oregon bakery that was fined by the state for refusing to provide a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

Mateer is well known among LGBTQ advocates as a staunch opponent of equal rights.

In December 2014, Mateer threatened to sue the city of Plano when council members approved an ordinance prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination. In 2015, he penned a Dallas Morning News column defending Paxton’s legal opinion encouraging county clerks and justices of the peace to defy the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.

And speaking at the “Freedom 2015” religious liberties conference in November, Mateer alleged that Christians are under attack in America.

“Probably the most frightening to me is, it’s not just those left-wing groups and left-wing media,” Mateer said. “Unfortunately, it’s our own government, and it starts at the top with the president of the United States, but it doesn’t stop with him. It’s city councils. It’s governors. It’s state attorneys general. It’s administrative agencies who’ve been sold a bill of goods, or they have their own agenda, which is to purge any religious influence from our society, and we’re seeing that in case after case.”

In addition to fighting LGBT equality, First Liberty has been an active opponent of reproductive rights, filing multiple lawsuits challenging the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate.

Paxton issued a news release Thursday morning praising Trump’s nomination of Mateer.

“Jeff Mateer is a principled leader—a man of character—who has done an outstanding job for the State of Texas as First Assistant Attorney General,” Paxton said. “I knew when I appointed him eighteen months ago that a greater calling could come, and I couldn’t be happier for Jeff and his family for this well-deserved appointment and high honor. Judges who rule by the Constitution and the law are desperately needed today, and I am confident a Judge Mateer will faithfully fulfill this duty.”

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John Wright

John Wright is the editor of OutSmart magazine. He has spent two decades in the mainstream and LGBTQ media. Most recently, he served as senior editor of Dallas Voice, and covered LGBTQ issues in the state Legislature for The Texas Observer. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Wright earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Florida. He resides in the EaDo area of Houston, where he is currently remodeling a 1930s row house.
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