LGBT Rights
August 31, 2016
Will courts uphold recent gains?

The Supreme Court’s decision extending marriage rights to same-sex couples has brought more and more gay and lesbian couples to the altar or the courthouse over the past year. But the decision also produced a backlash as opponents lobbied for bills allowing businesses, groups or individuals to dissociate themselves from same-sex unions based on religious or moral objections. Two of the broadest bills, enacted in North Carolina and Mississippi, are being challenged in court. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has thrown its weight behind equal treatment for transgender individuals. The Department of Education has told school districts to allow transgender students to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity rather than their sex at birth. More than 20 states are challenging the policy, and on Aug. 21 a federal District judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction against it.

Rowan County, Ky., clerk Kim Davis, flanked by her son, Nathan Davis, talks to reporters after being released from jail in September 2015. She had refused on religious grounds to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The impasse was resolved when Kentucky’s newly elected Republican governor, Matt Bevin, changed procedures to eliminate clerks’ names on the licenses. (Getty Images/Ty Wright)   Rowan County, Ky., clerk Kim Davis, flanked by her son, Nathan Davis, talks to reporters after being released from jail in September 2015. She had refused on religious grounds to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The impasse was resolved when Kentucky’s newly elected Republican governor, Matt Bevin, changed procedures to eliminate clerks’ names on the licenses. (Getty Images/Ty Wright)

Gay rights advocates recently marked the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s June 26, 2015, decision recognizing marital rights for same-sex couples nationwide. But after spending much of the year on the defensive, the advocates had mixed feelings.

With scattered resistance to marriage equality slowly subsiding, opponents pivoted by promoting bills, enacted in three states, that would allow some businesses, groups or individuals to deny services to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) individuals based on religious objections.

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