NICOLE JASANNA BELL
In 2015, a monumental decision was made, changing the lives of millions of Americans. Denying same-sex marriage was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. This was a great change for the LGBTQ+ community, but was it enough? According to the Oyez free law project from Cornell’s Legal Information Institute, the Obergefell vs. Hodges case involved:
“groups of same-sex couples sued their relevant state agencies in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee to challenge the constitutionality of those states' bans on same-sex marriage or refusal to recognize legal same-sex marriages that occurred in jurisdictions that provided for such marriages. The plaintiffs in each case argued that the states' statutes violated the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and one group of plaintiffs also brought claims under the Civil Rights Act. In all the cases, the trial court found in favor of the plaintiffs. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed and held that the states' bans on same-sex marriage and refusal to recognize marriages performed in other states did not violate the couples' Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection and due process.”
- Oyez, “Obergefell vs. Hodges”
While this was an amazing step, there still are cases of discrimination that still result in violence. Religion tends to play in big role in someone’s political opinion, despite the separation of church and state, started by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in Virginia (Ryman and Alcorn, The First Amendment Encyclopedia). Due to the weight religion plays in a lot of peoples’ lives, it causes their opinion on the LGBTQ+ community to be negative. Despite the mantra of loving your neighbor as yourself, there are still hate crimes being committed with Christian morals as the root. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2014 there were still fifteen states which constitutionally banned gay marriage. For LGBTQ+ people living in those states, acceptance is still something being fought over. Even in more progressive areas, discrimination is still happening.
I have many friends who tell me of the poor treatment they have received for their sexual or gender orientation. These acts of violence vary from physical to verbal. Even with the protection of marriage under the 14th Amendment, there is still resistance. One of the biggest concerns of 2020 is about the new Supreme Court justice, Amy Coney Barrett. Her political views tend to fall to the right of the spectrum when it comes to the Obergefell vs. Hodges ruling. According to the Human Rights Campaign, Barrett says that protecting transgender Americans is a false interpretation of the Constitution. She has been known to misgender “transgender people, referring to transgender women as ‘psychological males,’ while casting doubt of transgender rights,” (Nick Morrow, Human Rights Campaign). This is a terrifying reality for LGBTQ+ people.
On a brighter note, the first transgender state senator, Sarah McBride, was elected in Delaware (Dan Avery, NBC News). This is a big step for transgender people and LGBTQ+ rights as a whole. I hope that this will become normalized in politics; it is important to see these people in positions of power because it demands respect and gives the community figures to look up to. These are ways we can become a more accepting country.
I ask my readers to reflect on their stance on gay marriage and to check their actions towards LGBTQ+ people. This is not a debate on religion; it is a fight for the equal treatment and representation of Americans. Equality should not be an argument; it should be required.
This is an interview with Tristan Melville, an openly gay man, about his experience with discrimination:
Avery, Dan. “Sarah McBride to Become First Transgender State Senator in U.S. History.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 7 Nov. 2020, www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/sarah-mcbride-become-first-transgender-state-senator-u-s-history-n1246211.
Morrow, Nick. “The Human Rights Campaign: Amy Coney Barrett's Confirmation Is a Sham, Threatens LGBTQ Equality.” Human Rights Campaign, 26 Oct. 2020, www.hrc.org/press-releases/the-human-rights-campaign-amy-coney-barretts-confirmation-is-a-sham-threatens-lgbtq-equality.
"Obergefell v. Hodges." Oyez, www.oyez.org/cases/2014/14-556. Accessed 9 Dec. 2020.
Ryman, Hana, and J. Mark Alcorn. Establishment Clause (Separation of Church and State), 2009, www.mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/885/establishment-clause-separation-of-church-and-state.