This Pride Month, the LGBTQ community has one more reason to celebrate. In an astonishing yet a landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that employment discrimination due to an individual’s gender identity or sexual orientation is prohibited and will be punishable as per the Federal Civil Rights Law. This is a huge victory for LGBTQ persons who’ve been subject to severe discrimination at the workplace, which has impeded their career growth and has prevented them from availing several opportunities.
In light of the new ruling passed earlier this week, let’s take a look at a few other key U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have been instrumental in guaranteeing LGBTQ rights.
Lawrence v. Texas (2003)
In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Texas state law, which criminalized sodomy and other intimate sexual conduct, was unconstitutional. This ruling went against the previous ruling of 1986 when sodomy laws were implemented and sexual activity between two consenting adults of the same sex was deemed punishable by law.
The Court’s decision to eliminate the sodomy laws in 2003 marked a significant victory for the LGBTQ community, allowing them the freedom to engage in private sexual conduct without being scrutinized or punished by the government. The case is remembered as Lawrence v. Texas.
United States v. Windsor (2013)
The Supreme Court’s decision on the United States v. Windsor case is said to be one of the biggest precursors to marriage equality in the country. The case stemmed from the marriage of Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, who had gotten married in 2007 in Canada, prior to moving to New York. After Spyer’s death, Windsor was denied the tax exemption granted to surviving spouses because the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) of 1996 still defined marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman.
After a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court eliminated Section 3 from the DOMA on the grounds of it violating principles of equal protection. It was declared to be unconstitutional by the District Judge, and her ruling was later affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals as well as the Supreme Court.
Obergefell v Hodges (2015)
In June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage will no longer be banned or go unrecognized in the United States. This included all fifty states, the Insular Areas, and the District of Columbia. The court case (better known as Obergefell v. Hodges) got a 5-4 vote, with petitioners arguing that the ban on same-sex marriages was a direct violation of the 14th amendment’s equal protection clause.
The Supreme Court’s ruling was a huge victory for the LGBTQ community as it not only allowed same-sex marriages, but also recognized them in all of the states. Previously, only selected states had voted in favor of the decision, which meant that even if a couple got married in one state, their marriage would go unrecognized in another state.
The 2015 ruling gave the LGBTQ community legal protection, offering them the same legal perks marriage brings for heterosexual couples. This includes social security benefits, healthcare benefits, and survivor’s benefits, to name a few.
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