Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, complained about the crying son of a lesbian mother facing deportation during a senate hearing back in 2009.
The hearing was convened to discuss a bill that would have allowed LGBT people to sponsor a partner to stay in the country and avoid deportation since same-sex marriage rights were still at that time severely limited by the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
As we reported, lesbian mom and immigrant Shirley Tan testified at that hearing about being forcibly removed from her house by immigration agents. During her testimony, both Tan and one of her twin sons became clearly emotional. While Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy (VT) consoled the young man, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions had an altogether different reaction to the boy’s tears, as Chris Johnson at The Washington Blade points out.
Session’s reactions was recorded contemporaneously by gay journalist Jamie Kirchick, writing for The New Republic:
Unmoved, however, was Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions, ranking minority member of the Committee and the only Republican to bother to attend the hearing. At the sight of the weeping boy, according to a Senate staffer who was at the hearing, Sessions leaned towards one of his aides and sighed, “Enough with the histrionics.” Sessions’s press secretary did not return a call seeking comment.
LGBT rights activist Melanie Nathan, who helped get the LGBT immigration bill introduced in the Senate, also recalls the hearing:
I sat feet away from Jeff Sessions in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and witnessed first hand the disturbing machinations of a true blood racist – homophobe – xenophobe. […]
I watched the beady smug face of Jeff Sessions as he jabbed away at the witnesses with his distorted version of same-sex relationships. It was cruel – I watched as the sons of a stellar community member took the blows of those abusive assertions. I heard what he said that ripped at the hearts of those young loving sons.
Nathan also recalls that at that same hearing, Sessions called same-sex marriage rights, “‘special rights – the equivalent of giving these rights to brothers and sisters and roommates.”
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Sessions’ reported derision of the emotional display as “histrionics” is consistent with his opposition to same-sex marriage, his support for Donald Trump’s plan to expel millions of undocumented immigrants from the United States, his view that the Justice Department shouldn’t have stopped defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court and his stated belief the U.S. Supreme Court ruling for marriage equality nationwide was “unconstitutional.”
Rachel Tiven, executive director of Lambda Legal, told the Washington Blade she “of course” remembers the incident seven years ago during her tenure as chief of Immigration Equality, which helped facilitate the hearing.
Watch video of the hearing, below.