The Supreme Court’s Gay Rights Legacy
Posted on June 30, 2008
Filed Under Gay News Blog
Five years ago this week, the United State Supreme Court delivered its most sweeping gay rights decision ever, striking down laws in Texas and other states that had criminalized sex between gays. The court erected a shield of privacy around sexual behavior for all consenting adults, and in doing so paved the way for other milestones in the gay rights legal movement, including judicial victories for gay marriage in Nov. 2003 in Massachusetts and this year in California.
The decision in the Lawrence v. Texas case overturned convictions against two Houston men, who police had arrested after busting into their home and finding them engaged in sex. And for the first time in their lives, thousands of gay men and women who lived in states where sodomy had been illegal were free to be gay without being criminals. Gay rights groups held spontaneous celebrations in dozens of U.S. cities
But matched against their joy was a storm of protests, beginning from right inside the nation’s top courthouse itself. Justice Antonin Scalia read aloud from the bench his withering dissent that morning five years ago. Joined by then-Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Clarence Thomas, Scalia called the decision to strike down laws against sodomy “a massive disruption of the current social order,” and predicted that it would lead to the collapse of laws against gay marriage, fornication, bigamy, adultery, adult incest, bestiality, and obscenity. “This effectively decrees the end of all morals legislation.”
But in the five years since Lawrence came down, this much is clear: Scalia was not all wrong. Indeed, his central point — that the decision would give sustenance to a range of challenges to gay- and sex-related laws — has proven prescient.
The legal changes wrought by Lawrence have been considerable. Both the Massachusetts and California marriage cases, for instance, cite Lawrence. So have cases in Alabama involving sex toys, in Florida involving gay adoptions, and just last month, a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision cited Lawrence in holding for the first time that the military’s exclusion of openly gay members must be based on more than simple moral disapproval of homosexuals. That case has been sent back to lower courts for further proceedings, but is already seen as a major challenge to the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy of the U.S. Armed Forces.
This posting was automatically generated from a feed from Gay News Blog Read more….Courts – More on ‘California Supreme Court says same-sex couples have right to marry’
California Supreme Court Legalizes Gay Marriage
Supreme Court to Hear Lesbian Rights Case
California Supreme Court Overturns Same-Sex Marriage Ban
Supreme Court to Hear Lesbian Rights Case – KCBS