Legal Guides

Top Pro-LGBTQ Judgements by The United States Supreme Court

| June 22, 2023

The legal rights granted to the LGBTQ community by the Constitution and the federal law of The United States of America are constantly evolving. Discrimination faced by an individual on the basis of their sexual orientation or by the gender that they choose to identify often occurs in employment courses, housing or educational facilities and many other works of life. There have been quite a few instances of the supreme court holding up LGBTQ community rights and some of these cases are worth discussing. Although the current turn of events points to conservatism, the battle for justice for LGBTQ rights continues as does its ever-growing community.

Here are the top pro-LGBTQ judgments passed by the United States Supreme Court and the rights related to them. 

Bostock v. Clayton County

The landmark decision of Bostock v. Clayton County was passed in 2020. It upheld Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Title VII states that:

 i. Employment discrimination based on color, religion, race, sex, and national origin is prohibited.

ii. This protection from discrimination shall extend to both employees and job applicants. 

In this case, Gerald Bostock, the plaintiff, was fired from his job on the basis of his sexual orientation. Based on precedents, the lower courts passed a judgment stating that Bostock’s rights were not covered by Title VII  of the Civil Rights Act.  

However, the United States Supreme Court later stated that it was indeed an example of employment discrimination on sexual orientation. It was identified as discrimination under the broad heading of “sex”. This ruling has been considered a major win for the LGBTQ community thereafter. 

Prior to this judgment, the scope and purview of “sex” from “discrimination on the basis of sex” was redefined in Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc. In this landmark judgment by the Supreme Court, it was held that sexual harassment in the workplace included harassment caused by people of the same sex. 

Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 2018

In this case, Philips who was an owner of a bakery refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Philips was from the state of Colorado which did not recognize the legality of same-sex marriages. 

The couple who were denied the services of the Bakery filed a charge against Phillips. Based on discrimination on sexual orientation in a place of business, the administrative law judge ruled in favor of the couple. The Court of Appeals in Colorado formed this judgment. However, it was then reversed by the supreme court of the United States. The supreme court stated that Philips’s judgment to turn down his artistic skill services to this couple was based on his sincere religious belief. Therefore this was protected under the speech component of the first amendment to the Constitution.

The State Law then gave the storekeepers some autonomy. The storekeepers could choose to decline to deliver services that they considered offensive. This case was unique in its own way. The discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was recognized by the court, as was Philips’s claim to deny services.

Obergefell v. Hodges

One of the main pillars of LGBTQ rights is the landmark judgment of Obergefell v. Hodges passed in 2015. The judgment stated that even same-sex couples enjoy the fundamental right to marry. 

This right is guaranteed by the following clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of America. 

i. The due process clause

This Clause states that no one is deprived of their rights to a) life, b) liberty, and c) property, unless fair procedures of law require that. 

ii. The equal protection clause

This means that all people under the jurisdiction of the United States will have access to equal protection of their rights by the justice system. 

Post-hearing, all fifty states of the United States of America were to recognize the legality of same-sex marriage. The same-sex marriages were to be performed encompassing the exact rules and regulations as that of other marriages.

This landmark judgment by the Supreme Court validated the legality of same-sex marriages. Hence it remains a crucial part of LGBTQ history.  

Hollingsworth v. Perry, 2013

In the year of 2008, an initiative called Proposition 8 banned same-sex marriage in California through the means of a ballot. However, this was overturned when the district court of the United States for the northern district of California declared that the ban on same-sex marriages was a clear violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. 

The supporters and sponsors of the proposition appealed to the United States Supreme Court. Eventually, in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry, the supreme court declared that the supporters of the ballot did not have legal standing. 

Earlier sponsors argued that they were supported by Article 3 of the Constitution which gave courts the right to intervene in Federal controversies. In the final hearing, the court decided that same-sex marriage had complete legal standing in the State Of California. This judgment was thus a major contribution to the LGBTQ rights cause.

United States v. Windsor, 2013

his landmark judgment by the supreme court of the United States is both a milestone for Civil rights and for same-sex marriage causes. 

The case revolves around the same-sex couple, Edith and Thea. Their marriage was recognized under the state laws of New York. Thea, unfortunately, passed away in the year 2009 and left her property to Edith. 

Section 3 of the Defence of Marriage Act stated that it did not recognize same-sex marriages federally. Therefore any LGBTQ couple would not be getting insurance benefits, or Social Security Survivor benefits, and would also be exempted from immigration, bankruptcy, and joint tax return policies. Under this section, Edith was denied a tax exemption on their estate that was meant for surviving spouses. 

The Supreme Court decided on issuing the writ of Certiorari. The precedents through lower courts’ decisions were reviewed. And after much consideration, Justice Kennedy declared this section to be a clear violation of a person’s right to Liberty. Section 3 was declared unconstitutional.

And That’s A Wrap!

These judgments were a revolutionary addition to the justice system of the United States. The landmark judgments were a refreshing addition to the rights and liabilities that are now freely enjoyed by the LGBTQ community. We sincerely hope you like reading the article as we all celebrate Pride month. 

Hope you found the article informative and interesting!

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Jyoti Jha
Jyoti Jha

Jyoti Jha is a freelance SEO content writer for tech , health, and education-related content. With 5 years of experience in the industry, I am creating high-quality content that captivates readers and delivers value.


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