It’s time

1st June 2020, 9:02 am

Five years after the US Supreme Court declared a fundamental right for same-sex couples to marry, the justices produced another landmark for the gay rights movement by ruling that federal anti-bias law covers millions of gay, lesbian and transgender workers.

Today’s decision came at the hands of an unusual six-justice coalition on the nine-member bench, cloaked in legalistic, textualist reading of the statute but nonetheless reflecting a cultural transformation in America.

The ruling joins the annals of high court decisions over the last quarter century that have helped drive gay progress on myriad fronts, including the 2003 decision striking down statutes that criminalized sodomy and a 2013 action that invalidated a federal law that denied married same-sex couples the Social Security and other benefits given opposite-sex married couples.
Even with a newly cemented conservative majority, it appears the high court will continue moving forward on LGBTQ rights. There is still a question of how such rights will fare when religious objections emerge or questions about shared locker rooms and bathrooms are invoked in a transgender dispute — issues Today’s opinion specifically did not address.
Five years after the US Supreme Court declared a fundamental right for same-sex couples to marry, the justices produced another landmark for the gay rights movement by ruling that federal anti-bias law covers millions of gay, lesbian and transgender workers.

Today’s decision came at the hands of an unusual six-justice coalition on the nine-member bench, cloaked in legalistic, textualist reading of the statute but nonetheless reflecting a cultural transformation in America.

The ruling joins the annals of high court decisions over the last quarter century that have helped drive gay progress on myriad fronts, including the 2003 decision striking down statutes that criminalized sodomy and a 2013 action that invalidated a federal law that denied married same-sex couples the Social Security and other benefits given opposite-sex married couples.
Even with a newly cemented conservative majority, it appears the high court will continue moving forward on LGBTQ rights. There is still a question of how such rights will fare when religious objections emerge or questions about shared locker rooms and bathrooms are invoked in a transgender dispute — issues today’s opinion specifically did not address.

HISTORICAL NOTE: Gay sex between adults was banned by the Finnish criminal code up to 1971. This was no mere paper threat, as the law was also enforced as long as it was in effect. The criminal code and strict heteronormativity cast a shadow over the lives of gay people at that time. Homosexuality was both criminal and extremely shameful. It had to be hidden. Homosexuals — both male and female — had to live two lives; an ostensible hetero life that withstood the light of day and a night life, a secret gay existence.

 

Published: 1st June 2020

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