Throughout time people of all ethnicities, cultures, and sexualities have faced discrimination. Some due to the culture of the time or region and some due to religion; other time due to incorrect facts or misconceptions. The United States has often been slow to adapt to the changes accepted in many other countries. But through litigation, changes have been put into motion that has let our society chose new paths free of past discrimination issues; such as the decision, the supreme court handed down to end segregation with Brown v the board of education which repealed an earlier decision in Plessy v Ferguson.
As a country we are seeing old decisions which upheld discrimination based on sexuality overturned. Our constitution is a living document, meant to evolve and grow as our nation grows, this allows new interpretations over time. By looking at court cases before the courts in the past and recent times, the path of change can be shown clearly and an argument for further change can evolve.One of the earlier cases brought before the supreme court was Plessy v Ferguson, which upheld segregation by race. The court held that the idea of separate but equal was within the constitution and did not violate the thirteenth or fourteenth amendments.
The majority opinion was delivered by J. Brown (Brown 1896) who in the text of his decision states "Laws forbidding the intermarriage of the two races may be said in a technical sense to interfere with the freedom of contract, and yet have been universally recognized as within the police power of the State". (Welcome to Lii, nd) Many years later the supreme court would hear a case on marriage between races, Loving v Virginia. The majority opinion was delivered by Chief Justice Warren, (1967) who held that not allowing inter-racial marriage was a violation of the fourteenth amendment and in that opinion, Chief Justice Warren said, "Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival". (Welcome to lii. nd) A statement that would be used by many to gain support for same-sex marriages, as well as to show that civil unions were comparable to the "separate but equal" issues of the past.My contention is that these cases became the fore-runners for the later decisions on same sex marriage, many states had passed laws either in favor of same-sex marriages, banning them or allowing civil unions only. In 1996 the President Bill Clinton signed a bill into law which prohibited same-sex unions on a federal level. (CNN.com 2013)
States still had the right to allow marriage or deny the right to marry, many states brought forth laws and many lawsuits were filled on both sides. But in 2015 the supreme court took the case of Obergefell v Hodges and by very close margins of 5-4 held that states must allow same-sex marriage. In their article for CNN, Vogue and Diamond (2015) wrote "The U.S. is now the 21st country to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, including territories. Married same-sex couples will now enjoy the same legal rights and benefits as married heterosexual couples nationwide". In his majority opinion Justice Kennedy (2015) said "The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change. Changes, such as the decline of arranged marriages and the abandonment of the law of coverture". (Welcome to Lii)
This case was one of the most important for the LGBTQ community, giving them one of the most basic of rights, that of the right to marry; and Justice Kennedy's brief showed that marriage and our constitution was ever changing. Much like the previous decision to allow inter-race marriage changed public perception along with law.In recent times we have seen more cases brought before the court and more laws to protect LGBTQ put into place, but we have also seen more laws that restrict protections. Discrimination based on sexuality or gender is more common than many might think. Recently several states have passed so called "Bathroom bills" to keep people who do not identify as the sex assigned to them at birth from using their bathroom of choice.
The rhetoric is that it might lead children to be harmed by people pretending to be transsexual in order to commit a crime or that those who are transsexual are more likely to molest children. However, when pressed on the issue those opposed to either sharing the bathroom with someone who is Transsexual or installing gender neutral bathrooms cannot point to a legitimate scientific study that supports their suppositions. In fact, there is research to indicate this is just not true, in an article published by ABC news written by Steve Borrello (2016) he states that in all the municipalities that have laws protecting transsexuals and their access to public facilities that "None of those jurisdictions have [sic] seen a rise in sexual violence or other public safety issues due to nondiscrimination laws". The supreme court was reported to be taking on a gender and bathroom use case, but it was announced 2017 that they would not hear the case but instead returned it to a lower court.
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