A judge in northwest Ohio deeply apologised Thursday for a pair of homophobic letters-to-the-editor he wrote to his college newspaper in the 1990s.
Maumee Municipal Court Judge Dan Hazard issued the apology to The Blade, of Toledo, after the newspaper discovered the letters, which are available in the online archive of The Lantern at Ohio State University.
One letter Hazard wrote in 1992 suggested gay people who had contracted AIDS deserved the life-threatening condition. A second letter, written the next year, questioned the safety of living as a gay person and begged the homosexual community "to keep your AIDS to yourselves."
Hazard, who was elected judge in 2017, said he could offer "zero excuse" for the letters and would not attempt to justify their contents, which he labeled "reprehensible." He said he wrote them as a teenage college student and "by no means hold(s) those beliefs today."
"It was hurtful to anyone that saw it in 1993 or today," he wrote. "I am sorry that it will hurt even more people today including my gay and transgender family and friends whom I love dearly."
Hazard said he works to treat every litigant and attorney with that same respect "no matter their background, experience or gender identity and will continue to do so."
Equality Toledo Executive Director Sheena Barnes said, despite the time that's passed, "the words are still deeply harmful to our community."
"This article still showcases the hatred and stereotypes the LGBTQ community fights against today in 2020," she told The Blade. "We understand the judge recognised his thoughts as harmful, and we welcome him and his staffers to stop by our office for training or conversation."