When Judge Rosie Speedlin Gonzalez became the first openly LGBTQ+ judge to be elected in Bexar County, Texas, last year, the bilingual lesbian assured voters that her queer identity would never interfere with justice. But now, according to San Antonio Express News, a state commission has ordered her to remove a rainbow Pride flag from her courtroom stating it shows “bias.”
“As a judge, your role is not to advocate, activate, or motivate. Your role is to ensure that justice is done,” Gonzalez told the San Antonio Current at the time of her election. However, criminal defense attorney Flavio Hernandez, known for having a notoriously anti-LGBTQ+ agenda, claimed the displaying of a Pride flag in her courtroom showed a bias against opponents of LGBTQ+ rights. In fact, Hernandez was so peeved over the rainbow symbol of equality, he filed not one but two official complaints against Gonzalez — first, a motion to recuse Gonzalez from presiding over any case he handled due to possible “conflict of interest,” as well as a complaint with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
“I may not be able to turn the dark tide of immorality sweeping through our nation like a virus,” Hernandez told Express News of filing the complaints. “But in my small way, I voiced my support of traditional American family values.”
Even more shocking than an attorney of law publicly calling queer people “a virus” of “immorality” in 2020, was the fact that the State Commission actually sided with Hernandez and ordered Gonzalez via a private warning to not only remove the flag but any rainbow items in her court, including something as small as a pen.
It is not unusual for judges to display personal symbols of their beliefs in their courtrooms, so singling out Gonzalez in this way appears to be a clear attack on LGBTQ+ people and rights. Since receiving the order to remove the flag (given to her by a local LGBTQ+ council of the League of United Latin American Citizens), Gonzalez has hired an attorney and plans to appeal the decision, stating it is a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution.
“Judges all over the state of Texas have a right to express their First Amendment rights. They don’t lose that right when they become elected,” said Deanna Whitley, Gonzalez’s attorney, in a statement. “Judges might have a Mothers Against Drunk Driving emblem or they might have a cross or they might have a bible or a flag with a thin blue line. There was no showing that Rosie was, in any ruling, biased in favor of or against anyone.”