Kirkland is currently a judge on the Houston State District Court, and is running for Place 2 on the Supreme Court. The place’s current holder, Justice Don Willett, has been nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit by President Donald Trump.
If Willet is confirmed by the Senate, his place will become available in an open primary.
Kirkland is a Democrat, while the Texas Supreme Court is currently made up of all Republicans.
Texas has not had a Democrat on its Supreme Court since 1998, when Rose Spector lost her seat.
Kirkland is aware that he faces a tough challenge in the strong red state, but says he’s ready and willing to take it on.
“The margins are pretty broad and I’ll be the first to admit, it’s an uphill battle,” he said.
“But it was an also an uphill battle when I first won in 2008.”
Kirkland says he’s running because the court “has entered far too many decisions recently that reek of politics and it’s time to change that.”
For example, the court made a decision only this year to deny equal benefits to same-sex couples, in defiance of a US Supreme Court ruling, which Kirkland believes is the Republican judges trying to appease conservative voters.
Kirkland has served on the board of Stonewall Lawyers (a Texas association of LGBT legal professionals), and the State Bar of Texas Section on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Issues.
If elected, he will be a stark change to the conservative Justice Willett, who is known as the “tweeting-judge” for his numerous and often absurd posts (though perhaps only the second most-known politician for this reason.)
These tweets once included comparing equal marriage to a person marrying bacon.
I could support recognizing a constitutional right to marry bacon. pic.twitter.com/HKPW6tE4H6
— Justice Don Willett (@JusticeWillett) April 30, 2015
Willett was also involved last year in a Texas Supreme Court attempt to “un-marry” a lesbian couple.