June 26 of 2015 was the day that the United States Supreme Court ruled state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. This means marriage must be recognized in all 50 states and same sex marriage is legal in every state. It was an important and necessary achievement in civil rights for all Americans.
After the June 2015 Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruling, many LGBT groups sent out emails and posts on social media to encourage supporters, advocates, elected officials, allies, and all LGBTQIA people to continue fundraising, doing outreach, and getting involved in the fight for full federal equality.
Even though the Supreme Court of the United States ruled it was unconstitutional to ban LGBT people’s right to marry, the backlash that had been building up was immediate. The Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton, issued a statement the city clerks had the right to refuse to issue same-sex couples marriage licenses based on their religious beliefs (Paxton, 2015). Kim Davis was not the only clerk in Kentucky refusing marriage licenses, two other clerks in the same state were identified by the Advocate (Ennis, 2015).
Alabama, Indiana, and Georgia passed laws to discriminate specifically against LGBT people in the workplace (ACLU canvassing, 2015). Michigan restricted LGBT couple’s right to adopt children (ACLU canvassing, 2015). The Alabama state legislature is attempting to dismantle the entire marriage license system in their state rather than let LGBT people get married (HRC.org, 2015). The GOP was quick to introduce the First Amendment Defense Act, which would give people nationwide the privilege of discriminating against LGBT people in housing, public accommodation, education, medical treatment, and employment.
Some will downplay Kim Davis but many Republican candidates; Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz, are taking photographs with her, agreeing to meet with her. Even the Pope was interested in meeting a woman who made news for going to county jail for refusing LGBT people their constitutional rights in an official government position (HRC 2015 Dinner).
All republican candidates for president oppose marriage equality and passing federal legislation protecting LGBT people in the same way the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects the 5 groups it identifies (Library.clerk.house.gov, 1964). Republican candidates promise to lead the way to a reversal of the Supreme Court’s decision and a Federal Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The GOP has continuously appealed the Affordable Care Act for several years and President George W. Bush introduced a federal constitution amendment defining marriage between a man and a woman in his Presidency, the Federal Marriage Amendment (CNN, 2004). In 2014 there over 60 anti-LGBT bills introduced in 25 Stated the United States, three-quarters were religious refusal bills, and most were defeated (HRC.org, 2014) .
Four common strategies for pushing back LGBT equality and discriminating have been identified (HRC.org, 2014).
Religious Freedom Refusal Acts
Bills to Nullify Equality Legislation
In 2014, there were 20 anti-transgender bills introduced in 12 states, 12 bathroom bills in 8 states.
The momentum of marriage equality, the support of the Obama administration, the Democratic Party, and 2016 candidates like Hillary Clinton mean that we have our greatest opportunities for full federal equality.
Civil Rights leaders are call for full federal equality now.
“Even though the marriage equality battle is nearly complete we are still missing the essential building blocks of our full legal equality, here in this country in 2015 there is still no LGBT civil rights law on the books (Chad Griffin 2014 HRC National Dinner)”
What can we do? It is important to take an active stance for equality. Joining LGBT civil right groups like Human Rights Campaign (HRC) or the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Contacting local Congresspersons to support the Equality Act and electing a President who will sign the bill into law. The Equality Act was introduced by Tammy Baldwin (D – WI) and Jeff Merkley (D- OR) this year and can provide the legal protections in the workplace, public accommodations, medical treatment, and education that LGBT people need, but it has to pass a Republican Congress, so it is important for all supporters to get involved.