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The Supreme Court Rulings That Have Shaped Gay Rights in America

June 12, 2019 in History

By Joseph Bennington-Castro

The Court ruled in favor of gay rights as early as 1958. But its decisions haven’t always sided with the LGBT community.

The , the landmark 1967 decision that struck down laws banning interracial marriage.

Jim Obergefell holds a photo of him and his late husband John Arthur in his condo in Cincinnati. They were finally married on a medical jet in Maryland shortly before Arthur died of ALS. Obergefell filed suit so he could be listed as the surviving spouse on the death certificate, which went to the Supreme Court.

Obergefell v. Hodges set up an inevitable clash between civil and religious liberties, with some businesses arguing they don’t have to provide for gay marriages because doing so goes against their religious beliefs.

In Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018), SCOTUS sided with the Masterpiece Cakeshop—which refused to make a wedding cake for a gay wedding—on the grounds that the commission didn’t employ religious neutrality when it evaluated the discrimination case against the bakery.

But the court didn’t rule on the deeper issue of whether businesses can refuse service to gays and lesbians based on First Amendment rights.

Next: Workplace Discrimination

In 2019, SCOTUS took on three new casesAltitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—on which gay rights proponents are keeping close watch.

These cases continue the debate started two decades earlier about whether gay and transgender workers are protected from workplace discrimination.

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