September 17, 2018 at 11:13 am PST | by Chris Johnson
LGBT groups call for halt to Kavanaugh vote amid attempted rape charges

LGBT are calling for a halt to Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination amid sexual assault allegations. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

With Christine Blasey Ford coming forward as the individual alleging sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh, LGBT groups are joining the calls to pull the brake on his confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court ahead of a scheduled vote on his nomination this week.

Sharon McGowan, chief strategy officer for the LGBT legal group Lambda Legal, compared the allegations to the testimony of Anita Hill against now U.S. Associate Justice Clarence Thomas and said they “demand a thorough investigation.”

“We are pleased that a number of senators from both parties have recognized that the Senate has an obligation to the country to delay any further consideration of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to a lifetime position on the Supreme Court until such an investigation can take place,” McGowan said. “This should not be a partisan issue. At this moment, Republicans and Democrats – men and women alike – have an opportunity to do more than just talk about their commitment to taking issues of sexual assault seriously. Now is their opportunity to take concrete action to back up those words.”

After Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) last week announced she had sent an anonymous accusation Kavanaugh as a teenage student at Georgetown Preparatory School attempted to sexually assault a woman, Ford came out as the alleged survivor of sexual assault in an interview published Sunday in the Washington Post.

Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in Northern California, said the assault took place in the summer in the early 1980s, when at a party Kavanaugh tried to pin her down and attempted to remove her clothes. When she tried to scream, Ford said Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth.

Ford said Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s friend at the time, at that time jumped on top of them, causing all three of them to tumble and allowing her to break free. Ford said she initially locked herself in a bathroom, then fled the house.

Ford said she told no one about the incident until 2012, when she was in couples’ therapy with her husband.

According to the Post, Ford provided notes from the therapist at the time that don’t mention Kavanaugh by name, but says she was attacked by students “from an elitist boys’ school” who became “highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington.”

Her husband, Russell Ford, corroborated to the Post his spouse told the allegations to a therapist, used Kavanaugh’s last name at the time and expressed concern might one day be nominated to the Supreme Court. That ended up coming to pass when President Trump nominated Kavanaugh this year for the seat occupied former U.S. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.

The Post also reports Ford consulted Debra Katz, a D.C.-based lawyer known for her work on sexual harassment cases. After Katz recommended to Ford she take a lie detector test, Ford undertook one in early August administered by a former FBI agent. According to the Post, the results concluded Ford was being truthful.

Kavanaugh, who had previously denied engaging in sexual assault when the charges were anonymous, repeated his denial in a statement responding to Ford coming out publicly with the allegations.

“I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation,” Kavanaugh said. “I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”

Ford’s story prompted senators on both sides of the aisle to the call for a halt to the confirmation proceedings for Kavanaugh. After a week of raucous hearings earlier this month, the Senate Judiciary Committee was set to vote on his nomination Thursday.

Prior to the accusation from Ford, Kavanaugh’s confirmation was likely in the Republican-controlled Senate. Nonetheless, progressive and LGBT groups engaged in a concerted campaign to thwart his nomination over concerns he’d issue anti-LGBT rulings from the Supreme Court and overturn Roe v. Wade.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, commended Ford for coming forward and said the Senate must put the brakes on the Kavanaugh nomination.

“Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination process has been anything but transparent, and now with this grave charge of sexual assault, this process must be halted immediately,” Griffin said. “Moving forward with this confirmation process without conducting a thorough investigation would be deeply troubling and offensive to the American people, but more importantly to survivors of sex crimes across the country. It would communicate their trauma isn’t worthy of justice if a person sitting on the nation’s highest court can be confirmed without being investigated for alleged sexual violence.”

A week prior to the Kavanaugh committee vote, Feinstein said she delivered material on the allegations to the FBI so the agency can conduct an investigation into the allegations. Last week, the FBI reportedly said in wouldn’t conduct an criminal investigation into the matter and instead referred the issue the White House for review. It remains to be seen what action the FBI will now take in the aftermath of Ford going public with her allegations.

Rick Zbur, executive director for Equality California, went further in his statement and said the time has come for Trump to withdraw the Kavanaugh nomination.

“These charges are serious and disqualifying,” Zbur said. “They would be for any person in any circumstance, and are particularly so for someone nominated to serve on the nation’s highest court. Ms. Ford should never have had to come forward, but now that she has chosen to share her story, it is critical that law enforcement be given adequate time to thoroughly investigate Judge Kavanaugh’s conduct. The stakes are too high for his nomination to proceed, and the White House should withdraw it immediately.”

The White House had yet to respond to Ford coming forward with her allegations as of late Sunday evening.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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