It is a curious time for equality in the United States.
For one thing, Ketanji Brown Jackson is expected to be confirmed as the first black female justice on the United States Supreme Court this week. On the other hand, there are legitimate concerns about what the future may hold for members of certain marginalized groups, including LGBTQ Americans.
Even if the court does not overturn the landmark 2015 marriage equality case, such an outcome seems more possible now than it has at any time after the Obergefell.
Crucially, LGBTQ equality is being challenged in other ways as well.
In other words, it’s very likely that the GOP, along with the conservative legal movement, will continue to chip away at LGBTQ rights.
Here is a more in-depth look at the LGBTQ rights landscape:
What is the agenda?
“There are about a million legally married same-sex couples, many of whom are raising children within their marriages,” said Yale Law School professor William Eskridge, whose work focuses on sexuality, among other things. and gender in law. CNN. “Are you going to cancel all of this? I would be surprised if most conservative religious groups supported this.”
Eskridge said the Conservatives’ real goal is likely a bit more complicated.
“What’s happening is an attempt to take as many religious allowances out of Obergefell as possible,” Eskridge said. “In Fulton, the Supreme Court struck down the part of Obergefell that said same-sex marriages should be treated the same by the state – not necessarily by private persons – as heterosexual marriages. The court said, you have to allow this government delegate to discriminate against same-sex marriages in a government program.”
In short, the deeper agenda is to create religious allowances to discriminate against same-sex marriages through the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Free Exercise Clause and the Free Speech Clause, Eskridge said.
The case involves a Colorado-based wedding announcement website designer who is a practicing Christian and refuses to create websites for same-sex couples. She wanted to post a note on her website essentially explaining her discriminatory choice, but that would have been prohibited by state anti-discrimination law.
“The question is going to be constitutional: Does Colorado’s anti-discrimination law violate the First Amendment’s free speech clause,” Tobia told CNN. “We’re already seeing cases like this, but I imagine we’ll see more along these lines, cases seeking allowances based on religion or speech to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans.”
How is the movement against American LGBTQ developing?
Marriage equality is far from the only axis of tension.
LGBTQ rights advocates were quick to condemn some Republican lawmakers’ insistence on not leaving transgender children alone.
By saying that the law is necessary to protect children, DeSantis and his team are tapping into a very long and vicious history of weaponizing the rhetoric of children’s thinking against LGBTQ Americans and portraying them as safety risks to be controlled.
She added: “It’s heartbreaking to watch because these are families who are already struggling day to day in the public square and now have their own government chasing them just for existing.”
The ruling was a huge step forward for gay and transgender Americans, and the victory was made all the more notable because Judge Neil Gorsuch, a conservative and textualist, spoke the majority opinion.
And yet, it is worth asking: what will become of Bostock?
“Bostock is no longer a 6-3 majority,” explained Eskridge, the Yale law professor. “As dissenting Judge Samuel Alito feared, Bostock’s logic would apply to dozens of other federal statutes – including Title IX – that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. After Bostock, why shouldn’t they nor be read to also protect sexuality and gender?minorities?”
He continued: “So what’s going to become of Bostock in his reasoning? It’s big – big, big, big – and remains to be seen. Because it’s up to Judge John Roberts and Gorsuch, because Roberts is now the fifth vote instead of the sixth vote.”
In other words, perhaps the only thing certain about the current LGBTQ rights landscape is the fact that some parts of it are not as certain as they might first appear.