LGBTQ+ Rights Advances in June: A March Through Pride

The first gay pride march was held in New York City on June 28, 1970, the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising.  Over time, the one-day celebration has expanded to a month-long commemoration of LGBTQ+ pride, with various festivities scheduled throughout the entire month of June, now officially pride month.

June also is the month in which some of the most consequential Supreme Court rulings have been issued in regard to LGBTQ+ rights.

The landmark decision in Lawrence v. Texas was handed down on June 26, 2003, when the Supreme Court held that Texas’ sodomy laws as applied to consenting adults were unconstitutional.

Ten years later, on June 26, 2013, the Court held in United States v. Windsor that the Defense of Marriage Act (which had defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman) was unconstitutional as a “deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

This lay the groundwork for Obergefell v. Hodges, decided on June 26, 2015, when the Court made clear that in the United States, same-sex couples have a nation-wide right to wed.

More recently, on June 15, 2020, the Court held in Bostock v. Clayton County that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which among other things prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, protects employees against discrimination because they are gay or transgender.

Fast forward to June of this year.  We will soon learn whether the Supreme Court is going to review the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Williams v. Kincaid.  The Justices reportedly met privately a few days ago to discuss the case and further consider whether to take it on.  If the Supreme Court takes the case, it is expected to rule on whether transgender people who experience gender dysphoria are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act – another potentially huge step in the evolution of LGBTQ+ rights in our country.

Deena R. MerlenThis article is intended as a general discussion of these issues only and is not to be considered legal advice or relied upon. For more information, please contact RPJ Partner Deena R. Merlen, who counsels clients in areas of employment and labor law, intellectual property, media and entertainment, general business law, commercial transactions and dispute resolution. Ms. Merlen is admitted to practice law in Connecticut and New York.