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Appendix.4: Ten Court Cases to Know

  • Page ID
    68344
  • ONE, INC. V. OLESEN
    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES (1958)
    ONE, Inc. v. Olesen was the first Supreme Court decision in favor of LGBTQ rights. Los Angeles Postmaster Olesen seized mailings of the early gay and lesbian movement’s ONE Magazine on the basis that it promoted homosexuality and thus was inherently obscene. The Supreme Court reversed the lower court decisions and cleared the way for the broad circulation of LGBTQ publications.

    BOUTILIER V. IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE
    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES (1967)
    Boutilier v. Immigration and Naturalization Service affirmed the right of the INS to deny immigration to gay and lesbian people. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 denied any people with a “psychopathic personality” from entering the United States, a designation that included LGBTQ people. When homosexuality was declassified as a mental illness in 1973, the INS continued to deny gay and lesbian people entry and to actively deport gay and lesbian immigrants until a change in policy in 1979.

    NORTON V. MACY
    UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT (1969)
    Norton v. Macy rejected the policy of the United State Civil Service Commission to disqualify applicants and terminate employees based on sexual orientation. Although previous court cases such as Scott v. Macy had challenged the exclusionary policy, this court case was the first to directly repudiate the Commission’s policy. In 1975, the commission would finally drop is policy banning gay and lesbian people for employment.

    BOWERS V. HARDWICK
    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES (1986)
    Bowers v. Hardwick reversed a federal district court’s finding that an anti-sodomy statute violated a LGBTQ person's fundamental right to privacy. Hardwick, arrested for alleged consensual sex with a man in his bedroom, was prosecuted for the crime of sodomy. Until this decision was reversed seventeen years later, it would allow for the continuing denial of a broad range of civil rights for LGBTQ people.

    PRICE WATERHOUSE V. HOPKINS
    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES (1989)
    Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins affirmed that the prohibition in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against gender discrimination extended to discrimination based on gender-role stereotypes. Employee Ann Hopkins was rejected for promotion because she did not behave in a “feminine” manner. In finding for her, the court concluded that the Civil Rights Act barred not just discrimination based on the biological differences between women and men, but also discrimination based on a person’s failure to conform to socially-constructed gender expectations.

    ROMER V. EVANS
    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES (1996)
    Romer v. Evans overturned Colorado’s state constitutional Amendment 2, passed by voters, which prohibited any city, town, or county in the state from any action designed to protect gay and lesbian people. The court ruled that the amendment violated the rights of gay and lesbian citizens to participate in society and politics. Besides becoming a legal standing to challenge government discrimination, it checked the power of voters or legislators to deny equal rights to LGBTQ people.

    LAWRENCE V. TEXAS
    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES (2003)
    Lawrence v. Texas reversed the court’s finding in 1986’s Bowers v. Hardwick by invalidating a Texas sodomy law. The court found that "the liberty protected by the Constitution allows homosexual persons the right to choose to enter upon relationships in the confines of their homes and their own private lives and still retain their dignity as free persons." The decision would have a broad impact on the fight for LGBTQ civil rights, including on the denial of same-sex marriage, deportation of LGBTQ people, ban of LGBTQ people from military service, and removal of children from LGBTQ parents.

    UNITED STATES V. WINDSOR
    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES (2013)
    United States v. Windsor ruled that a section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional and that the federal government could not discriminate against married lesbian and gay couples for the purposes of determining federal benefits and protections. The court held that the act was “unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

    OBERGEFELL V. HODGES
    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES (2015)
    Obergefell v. Hodges gave same-sex couples the right to marry across the United States. At the time, each state set its own policy towards same-sex marriage, meaning married couples recognized in one state, may not be recognized in another. This case, a consolidation six separate cases into one, officially made same-sex marriage a right guaranteed by the United States Constitution.

    BOSTOCK V. CLAYTON COUNTY, GEORGIA
    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES (2020)
    Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia ruled that LGBTQ people are protected from employment discrimination by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. The court defined that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity was, by its very definition, discrimination based on sex.

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