Jeff Mateer, the First Assistant Attorney General of Texas and President Donald Trump’s nominee for District Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, once said transgender children were evidence of “Satan’s Plan” in a 2015 speech. He also advocated for conversion therapy and said the approval of same-sex marriage could lead to bestiality and polygamy.
Trump announced Mateer’s nomination on September 7, along with 15 other judicial picks. Like all federal judicial nominees, Mateer will need to be approved by the U.S. Senate. He has never served as a judge before.
In Texas, LGBTQ rights groups almost immediately criticized Mateer’s nomination. However, it is just now gaining national attention after CNN reported on the content of two 2015 speeches he delivered.
Here’s what you need to know about Mateer and his beliefs.
1. Mateer Said in 2015 That Transgender Children Are Evidence of How ‘Satan’s Plan Is Working’
The two speeches CNN reported on come from 2015, when Mateer was working as general counsel for the First Liberty Institute, a religious liberty group that was previously known as the Liberty Institute.
“We believe that true religious liberty means recognizing the fundamental right of every individual—including all ages, races, genders, and faiths—to follow their conscience and to live according to their beliefs,” reads a statement on their site. “Because of that, our mission is simple: protect religious freedom for all.”
The first speech from Mateer is called “The Church and Homosexuality.” It was posted on Vimeo two years ago and runs close to an hour. In it, Mateer talks about the 2013 Colorado case about a transgender first-grader sued for the right to use the girls’ bathroom and won.
“In Colorado, a public school has been sued because a first grader and I forget the sex, she’s a girl who thinks she’s a boy or a boy who thinks she’s a girl, it’s probably that, a boy who thinks she’s a girl,” Mateer said in the speech, reports CNN. “And the school said, ‘Well, she’s not using the girl’s restroom.’ And so she has now sued to have a right to go in. Now, I submit to you, a parent of three children who are now young adults, a first grader really knows what their sexual identity? I mean it just really shows you how Satan’s plan is working and the destruction that’s going on.”
Trump himself has not been protective of transgender rights. In July, he announced plans to reverse the Obama-era decision to allow transgender military recruits. He also pulled an Obama directive to let transgender students use whichever bathroom they choose to in February.
2. Mateer Suggested That Allowing Same-Sex Marriage Will Put the U.S. on the Road to Allowing Polygamy & Bestiality
In the same speech, Mateer expressed his disappointment with the Supreme Court’s decision to allow same-sex marriage in all 50 states. He suggested that the decision puts no limit on who – or what – people can marry.
“What is the limiting? Why couldn’t four 4 people wanna get married? Why not one man and three women? Or three women and one man? And we’re gonna spare you some of those slides,” Mateer said in the speech. “We actually have a presentation that we get into it. And I’ll tell you, we say it’s PG-13, it may be R, or what do they call the next one? NC-17 or whatever?”
He continued, calling it “disgusting,” especially because he’s learned new words like “throuple.”
“Somebody wanted to marry a tree. People marrying their pets,” Mateer said. “It’s just like — you know, you read the New Testament and you read about all the things and you think, ‘Oh, that’s not going on in our community.’ Oh yes it is. We’re back to that time where debauchery rules.”
3. In Another 2015 Speech, Mateer Advocated for Conversion Therapy
CNN also obtained audio of a November 2015 speech Mateer delivered, in which he complained about conversion therapy being outlawed. The speech was given at a conference hosted by Kevin Swanson, the controversial pastor at Generations who has condemned homosexuality.
“Biblical counselors and therapists, we’ve seen cases in New Jersey and in California where folks have gotten in trouble because they gave biblical counseling and, you know, the issue is always, it’s same sex,” Mateer said in the speech obtained by CNN. “And if you’re giving conversion therapy, that’s been outlawed in at least two states and then in some local areas. So they’re invading that area.”
The American Psychiatric Association and the American Pediatric Association have said that conversion therapy does not work and could even do harm to a child. Since California banned the practice in 2012, eight states have banned it, reports the Atlantic. Connecticut, New Mexico and Nevada joined that list this year.
“Therapy directed specifically at changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation,” the American Academy of Pediatrics noted in the Pediatrics journal back in 1993.
4. Equality Texas Spoke Out Against Mateer Joining the Texas Attorney General’s Office in 2016
Equality Texas was among the groups that spoke out against Mateer’s nomination this month. The LGBTQ advocacy group also opposed his appointment as First Assistant Attorney General for Texas in March 2016.
“Legislators who support bills that discriminate against LGBT people are aligning themselves with hate groups that use lies and dishonesty to vilify our families and neighbors,” Equality Texas said in March 2016. “These same leaders do not reflect the brand of Texas, nor do they represent the opinions of most Texans.”
Mateer was appointed to the office by Attorney General Ken Paxton. When Mateer was nominated for the judgeship by Trump, Paxton called Mateer a “principled leader” and a “man of character.”
“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,” Paxton said. “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.”
According to Mateer’s LinkedIn page, he is a graduate of Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law and Dickinson College. He was General Counsel for First Liberty for six years before he joined the Texas Attorney General’s Office.
5. Mateer Wasn’t the Only First Liberty Institute Veteran Nominated for a Judgeship By Trump
Mateer wasn’t the only First Liberty Institute veteran nominated for a judgeship by Trump on September 7. Trump also nominated Matthew J. Kacsmaryk, who still works for the advocacy group. He is Deputy General Counsel for First Liberty and was previously Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Texas. Trump nominated him to serve as District Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
Both Mateer’s and Kacsmaryk’s nominations have been opposed by LGBTQ groups.
“First Liberty Institute has used anti-LGBTQ policies to blatantly vilify our families and neighbors for two decades,” Equality Texas said in statement to the Texas Observer. “By nominating associates of this hate group, the president is using his office in an attempt to ensure policies will be created and spearheaded to advance anti-LGBTQ discrimination in employment, housing and places of business all under the guise of protecting religious liberties.”