Law Cases

Lawrence v. Texas

The case Lawrence v. Texas 539 U.S. 558 (2003), which was heard in the United States Supreme Court, culminated into a ruling that invalidated ban on homosexual pederasty in Texas. The basis of the ruling was the Fourteenth Amendment. It was argued that sexual conduct was rightfully protected under the law. The ruling had a major impact as other states within the United States invalidated similar laws that tried to criminalize homosexual activities. It was argued that homosexual activities were not criminal so long as it occurred between consenting adults acting in privacy.

The Supreme Court had three major challenges when making the ruling. Firstly, how true was it that Texas law violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by same-sex sexual activity? Secondly, how is privacy and personal liberty rights of the petitioners protected under the due process clause in their intimate sexual relations? Lastly, was it right for the Court to overrule a decision made in 1986 involving a similar case that declared homosexuals had no fundamental right to engage in sexual acts?

The ruling was welcome by the gay and lesbian community across the state. They were joyous because their intimate sexual expressions were accepted as no longer criminal. This spread to all the states. However, the reach of the ruling may have serious implications on private and personal liberty rights of most citizens.

The ruling gave a leeway for the acceptance of same-sex marriage. Moreover, the ruling made homosexuality a significant class in the society, sharing the same status with classifications such as gender and race. The court’s opinion was puzzling as it disallowed moral legislation. However, it is unclear what standards of review were in play.

Goodridge v. Department of Public Health

The case Goodridge v. Department of Public Health,440 Mass. 309, 322, 798 N.E. 2d 941, 955 (2003) was a landmark case that dealt with same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) filed suit to protect the same-sex couples who had been denied a marriage license. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling was in favor of same-sex marriage. It argued that State had no rational basis to deny marriage between same-sex couples on the grounds of due process and equal protection.

Massachusetts is known to have a strong track record of civil rights contribution on many issues. At the time, it is only civil marriage that offered the legal framework of protections and obligations. Besides, residents knew that gay and lesbian families were a fabrication of the Commonwealth. However, majority believed in fairness and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The courts treated the State Constitution as having strong equality guarantees that offer protection to the minority. The legislature had also passed laws concerning lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual people. The legislation included hate crimes, job protection, and students’ rights. Were these some of the reasons that motivated GLAD to file suit? It seems the environment was conducive for them to argue their case.

GLAD stated that the State Constitution guarantees equal treatment and enjoyment of fundamental liberties by all people. They argued that same-sex couples were being denied their fundamental rights by exclusion from civil marriage. They also argued that not only the couples but also their children were being denied protections and responsibilities provided for in a marriage setup. How did this view relate to most religions view on marriage? Is it right for the legislation to keep expanding rights?

Perry v. Schwarzenegger

The case Perry v. Schwarzenegger was filed by two same-sex couples against California government officials concerning Proposition 8. The proponents of Proposition 8 argued that same-sex marriage undermined traditional marriage and therefore, should be banned. However, they failed to produce enough evidence leading to a ruling that declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional. The proposition restricted the definition of marriage to a union involving people of the opposite sex. Proposition 8 came into effect after the 2008 elections. Was it a campaign tool aimed at luring voters?

It may appear that the proponents of the constitution amendment discriminated against homosexuals. They argued how marriage between partners of the opposite sex formed an essential part of the society. On the other hand, homosexuals argued that freedom to marry was fundamental in the society. They further argued that the California Constitution guaranteed equality and freedom rights to everyone.

The ruling by the federal court declared Proposition 8, which was approved by voters, unconstitutional. It explained that the Proposition 8 violated the due process and the equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. To avoid being biased, one may have several questions on what transpired that culminated into that ruling. Did the evidence from the homosexuals indicate that children raised in gay and lesbian families were actually alright? Why did proponents for the constitution fail to convince the court that Proposition 8 was serving a legitimate interest of the government? Is it true that those against homosexuals are yet to find facts that morally disapprove homosexuality? These are weighty matters that may appear even if an appeal is launched at the Supreme Court. There also exists a thin line between what is morally right and discrimination against same-sex marriage.

Windsor v. United States

Windsor v. States was a gay marriage case involving Edith Windsor and Thea Clara Spyer. The case questions the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The Act was signed into law in 1996 by President Bill Clinton. It prohibits any recognition of same-sex marriage by the federal government. This means that survivors from same-sex marriages do not get Social Security benefits. The law also does not recognize members of same-sex marriage who have been certified in another state.

Windsor and Spyer got married in 2007 after being in a relationship for many years. The marriage was recognized by the state laws of New York. However, after Spyer died in 2009, federal law denied Windsor spousal deductions for her federal estate taxes. The prohibition was as a result of Defense of Marriage Act’s section three, which spells out that spouse and marriage refer only to legitimate union between one man and one woman. Though the government had previously held that DOMA must be defended in court, it softened its stand and stated that it would no longer defend DOMA in court. This move enabled Windsor file a suit in court challenging the same law.

The ruling stated that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional as it interfered with the state’s rights under the equal protection guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment. Several questions arise from ruling. How does DOMA violate the Fifth Amendment when applied to legally married persons of the same sex? Are there any social implications of DOMA? What is DOMA’s influence on each state regarding same-sex marriage? This may mean some states may refuse same-sex marriage. There are also arguments that DOMA influences the economy by limiting tax savings and other payments to same-sex spouses.

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