LGBT Rights
September 20, 2018
Will the new Supreme Court nominee undercut gay rights?

The Supreme Court dealt LGBT advocacy groups two setbacks in June, with a decision favoring a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple and the announcement that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the key vote in four landmark decisions recognizing gay rights, would retire on July 31. Federal appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to succeed Kennedy, seemed likely to oppose expanding LGBT rights if confirmed. Meanwhile, federal courts blocked Trump’s plan to limit transgender individuals in the military. Two other federal courts interpreted the federal job bias law as prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; the issue was awaiting possible Supreme Court review. Internationally, the number of countries with marriage equality for same-sex couples grew to 25.

LGBT advocacy groups saw the July retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who cast the key vote in four landmark decisions recognizing gay rights, as a potentially devastating blow for gay rights. (AFP/Getty Images/Saul Loeb)   LGBT advocacy groups saw the July retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who cast the key vote in four landmark decisions recognizing gay rights, as a potentially devastating blow for gay rights. (AFP/Getty Images/Saul Loeb)

LGBT advocacy groups suffered two setbacks at the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2018, with a defeat in a closely watched civil rights case and the retirement of the Supreme Court justice identified with four landmark decisions that recognized gay rights.

The court’s June 4 decision in the civil rights case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, favored a Colorado baker who had been sanctioned by the state civil rights agency for refusing on religious grounds to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. The ruling, written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, left the underlying legal issue unresolved, but social conservatives hailed the decision as an affirmation of religious liberty for businesses and individuals opposed to same-sex unions.

RELATED REPORTS