June 26 – SCOTUS Decisions

For the LGBT+ community in the United States, June 26th is a day of monumental importance. As I am quite sure we all remember, in 2015 the Supreme Court announced its decision on the landmark case Obergefell v. Hodges and marriage equality was officially the law in all fifty states and the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. Most of the remaining U.S. territories followed suit swiftly thereafter, although the status of same-sex marriage in American Samoa is still under question two years later. (I’m assuming they’re a little behind on this mainly because they’re so freaking far away?)

But in 2003, a possibly even more important Supreme Court decision was made. One that made Obergefell v. Hodges possible to begin with. That landmark case was Lawrence v. Texas. By that year, only 36 states, four territories (including American Samoa) and the District of Columbia had done away with their anti-sodomy laws. As such, this case had a major impact across the country — finally officially decriminalizing homosexuality for the United States.

I know that I was in high school when that happened and I heard literally nothing about it, I’m sure most people my age and younger heard nothing about it at the time. So, I just want everyone to take a moment to consider the fact that homosexuality has only been legal in the United States of America, as a country, for fifteen years as of my writing this. If our legal standing in this country was a person, it would be just old enough to have a driving permit. Our legal rights in this country are younger than Harry Potter.

Of course, that wasn’t the end of it. The state of Louisiana was still including “unnatural carnal copulation by a human being with another of the same sex” in their legal definition of crimes against nature — which meant that homosexual intercourse was still punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 or a prison sentence that could be as long as five years and could include hard labor. In 2005, this was also overturned by the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, citing Lawrence v. Texas. There are still thirteen states that have not formally struck down their state bans on sodomy — and three of those bans specifically disallow same-sex intercourse. Of course, all of these are now unenforceable especially because of Lawrence v. Texas, but just to be precise here, it’s important to note that this is still in flux.

Then on June 26 2013, there was also United States v. Windsor which was the landmark Supreme Court case that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, the first step in getting marriage equality. And in case that wasn’t enough, on the same day in 2017 the decision for the case Pavan v. Smith was announced — striking down a law in Arkansas that kept same-sex couples from both having parental rights over their children. So, like, a lot of important gay Supreme Court decisions have happened on June 26.

(Adapted from this Facebook post.)

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