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An Ohio judge has apologized after a homophobic column that he wrote while in college came to light.
Maumee Municipal Court Judge Dan Hazard penned the column as a sophomore for the April 30, 1993 edition of The Lantern, the Ohio State University’s student-run newspaper.
Hazard was responding to the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation, where millions of LGBTQ individuals marched to call for the repeal of anti-sodomy laws, the passage of LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws, and increases in federal funding for HIV/AIDS education, research, and prevention.
He started the letter to the editor by writing: “I would like to give my thanks to the homosexual community for opening my eyes. I now see what this campus could be like with the removal of gays from our society.”
Hazard raised a number of “concerns” that, in today’s context, read as scare-mongering: fear of sexual harassment at the hands of gay students, second-guessing the sexual orientation of other students, and fears over transmission of AIDS, reports Toledo-area CBS affiliate WTOL.
The judge then pivoted to argue that the “homosexual lifestyle” is not safe, pointing to statistics from the anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council.
FRC has been vocal about the fact that it does not consider homosexuality an “acceptable alternative lifestyle.”
“I see these stats as good news, but I beg the homosexual community one thing: Please keep your AIDS to yourselves. You have killed many innocent children, a few innocent adults (blood transfusions) and a number of not-so-innocent and irresponsible heterosexuals,” wrote Hazard. “Aren’t these deaths enough to draw attention to yourselves? Do you need to hold the country prisoner any longer with your lies and deceit?”
When confronted by reporters about these comments, Hazard, a former Maumee City Council member prior to his elevation to the bench in 2018, responded with a statement, writing: “The letter posted here was reprehensible and deplorable. I wrote this and another of the same tone as a teenage college student 27 years ago and by no means hold those beliefs today.
“I have zero excuse and could not attempt to justify it then or now,” he added. “It was hurtful to anyone that saw it in 1993 or today. I am sorry that it will hurt even more people today including my gay and transgendered family and friends whom I love dearly.”
Hazard told WTOL that one of the first marriages he officiated as a judge was for a same-sex couple, and said that he treats every litigant and attorney with the same respect, regardless of their background.
“I am glad that this allows me to clarify my views that have drastically changed over time,” Hazard concluded. “Respect is owed not only in the courtroom, but in all of society.”
Rob Salem, a law professor and member of the Toledo LGBTQ Bar Council, credited Hazard for apologizing, but said that some LGBTQ people may be skeptical that they’ll receive a fair hearing if they appear before Hazard in court.
“I think he did the right thing,” Salem said. “[But] I think it does cause concern or should still cause some concern for LGBT people who appear in his courtroom.”
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