Today the Connecticut Senate Republicans intend to vote down the nomination of Justice Andrew J. McDonald as chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court. Why? Senator Len Fasano’s assertion that McDonald being gay is not why they are rejecting him is credible. Yet, being aware that his sexual orientation makes McDonald more vulnerable to attack, they have taken advantage of that.

To me this is about state Republicans echoing the politically greedy national GOP’s tactics to serve their uber-wealthy backers. They believe there’s an opportunity to turn Connecticut red, with an unpopular Democratic governor who’s leaving office, difficult economic times, and the national chaos resulting from governing by twitter. McDonald will pay the price.

But so will Connecticut Republicans, because politics not just about reality. Perception matters, and the perception of this is not going to be good for Connecticut’s GOP legislators. They have chosen to reject a well-qualified justice who is also gay, and that will stick in the craw of the LGBTQI community and many others who are sensitive and supportive. That 45 and the GOP administration has very deliberately targeted LGBTQI folks for censure, exclusion, and denial of basic rights lends credence to the idea that McDonald is being punished for who he is — whether it is true or not.

It seems clear that Fasano and his Republican Senate cronies forgot, or misjudged, the impact this action will likely have on many others who identify with Connecticut’s LGBTQI community. People who have for so many years been closeted are still just beginning to feel freedom on their wings. They already feel angry and threatened by the national administration’s homophobic legislation, regulations, and encouragement of discrimination by “religious” bigots. The Connecticut Senate’s denial of McDonald’s nomination isn’t going to be seen as irrelevant against that backdrop.

The Connecticut GOP may have had a chance, but today they plan to shoot themselves in the foot. Long may they pay for it.

Roberta Echelson lives in West Hartford.

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