Supreme Court Decisions a Major Milestone for LGBTI Rights | Freedom House

Supreme Court Decisions a Major Milestone for LGBTI Rights

Washington

Photo Credit: Ted Eytan

Freedom House applauds the Supreme Court’s decision today to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and dismiss the case on Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in California. Both decisions represent major milestones for human rights and LGBTI equality in the United States.

“This is a key step towards ensuring that LGBT persons are treated equally under the law,” said Chloe Schwenke, vice president of global programs at Freedom House. “Today, the Supreme Court recognized the universality of human rights for all citizens. While important struggles remain, including for the human rights of transgender persons, today’s decisions are pivotal and the Court’s embrace of the reality and value of human diversity will be welcomed by human rights activists around the world.”

If, as expected, California resumes the performance of same sex marriages, 37 states still will not have full marriage equality and nearly half of states, as well as the Federal Government, do not have nondiscrimination protection for LGBT people. Transgender people face particular discrimination and exclusion, and young people who struggle with sexual orientation and gender identity often suffer bullying in school.

In a 5-4 ruling on United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court said that the Defense of Marriage Act – which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage, denies couples benefits and defines marriage as between a man and a woman – is unconstitutional. DOMA was signed into law by former president Bill Clinton in 1996.  President Barack Obama recently instructed the Justice Department to stop enforcing the law. Under the Supreme Court’s rulings, couples who are married in Washington D.C. and the 13 states that recognize same-sex marriage will now receive equal benefits under the law.

In a separate decision, the court ruled 5-4 to dismiss Hollingsworth v. Perry - which considered the constitutionality of California’s ban on same-sex marriage. Proposition 8, which bars same-sex marriage in California, was passed in 2008 by voters and later was successfully challenged in state and federal courts.  As a result of this decision, California is likely to immediately restore the authorization of same-sex marriages.

To learn more, visit:

LGBTI Rights Page

Press Release: Freedom House Applauds the Obama Administration’s Decision to Stop Defending DOMA

Dignity for All: LGBTI Assistance Program

Blog: Freedom at Issue

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