How many California judges are gay?
Not many, according to the results of the state's Judicial Applicant Data Report, which is administered by the Administrative Office of the Courts. Only 19 women and 17 men out of 1,005 respondents answered the question in the affirmative. That's about 1%.
This is a low number, but the truth is that 40% of judges refused to answer the question altogether. Many of them believe asking about a judge's sexual preference or gender identity is an invasion of privacy.
This was actually the first time the yearly survey asked respondents whether they are gay, straight or transgender, explains Fox News. Legislators recently passed the Judicial Applicant and Appointment Demographics Inclusion Act, ordering court administrators to include the question.
Supporters of the law believe it will promote greater diversity on the bench. In 2009, 73.6% of California judges were white, and only 28% were women. Racial minorities were all below 10%. Supporters wanted to see what the numbers looked like for the LGBT community.
Detractors, including some sitting judges, believe the question is intrusive, explains the Los Angeles Times. Unlike race or sex, sexual and gender identity are private matters. Individuals can choose to divulge the information on their own terms.
Critics also suggest gender and sexual identity are immaterial. Judicial appointments should be about competence, not filling a quota. But can't the same argument be made about sex, race and ethnicity?
To this end, isn't asking California judges any question about their personal identity inappropriate?