Supreme Court Cases That Shaped LGBTQ Rights in USA
The United States has witnessed a remarkable shift in LGBTQ rights and visibility in the 50 years since the Stonewall uprising – and in just the last few years, LGBTQ people have won the right to marry, have hit a record high in representation on television and have seen the first openly gay major presidential candidate begin his campaign.
But the path of LGBTQ rights in America has not been a simple one. And just as advocates fought their battle American culture, they also did so in the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Over the last half a century, the court first denied and then affirmed that LGBTQ people have the right to consensual sex, and then the right to marry whom they choose.
This fall, the Supreme Court will have another opportunity to make another statement about LGBTQ rights. In two cases heard Tuesday, the Court is set to consider whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – a federal civil rights law that blocks discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sex – covers LGBTQ people.
The first case will consider the dismissals of a county government employee and a skydiving instructor, who were fired for being gay. The second case will consider the case of a funeral home director, who was fired after coming out as transgender. The cases come as the court appears to be moving in a conservative direction, following the appointments in 2017 and 2018 of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, respectively. The Trump administration has already made clear where it stands in these cases; the Department of Justice argued in a pair of amicus briefs that discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation should not be included under Title VII.
As of Oct. 8, the fate of the cases appeared to be uncertain. After hearing arguments for the cases, Gorsuch said that there are strong arguments supporting the position of LGBTQ workers, but said that he was concerned about the “massive social upheaval” that could following ruling in their favor.