TRANSPARENT BIGOTRY…. Following up on an earlier item, at least one high-profile Republican senator announced he doesn’t want to see President Obama nominate a gay American for the Supreme Court.

[C]onservative leaders have warned the nomination of a gay or lesbian justice could complicate Obama’s effort to confirm a replacement for Souter, and another Republican senator on Wednesday warned a gay nominee would be too polarizing.

“I know the administration is being pushed, but I think it would be a bridge too far right now,” said GOP Chief Deputy Whip John Thune. “It seems to me this first pick is going to be a kind of important one, and my hope is that he’ll play it a little more down the middle. A lot of people would react very negatively.”

I don’t expect much from Thune, but I have to wonder if he realizes how incredibly ridiculous this is.

As he put it, the nominee has to be straight, otherwise the would-be justice “would be a bridge too far right now.” Honestly, what the hell does that mean? Thune, as a practical matter, is establishing a litmus test — qualifications and merit are important, but homosexuality, regardless of any other factor, is more important. Why? Because Thune says so.

Indeed, the president, Thune says, should “play it a little more down the middle.” What if the nominee is both gay and well within the judicial mainstream? Why would any thinking person assume that a gay nominee is necessarily someone on the ideological fringe?

Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, to his credit, told reporters today, “I’m not inclined to think [being gay is] an automatic disqualification.”

Good lord, Jeff Sessions is starting to look moderate compared to some of his GOP colleagues.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.