FALLOUT FROM THE US SUPREME COURT "ROMER" DECISION
Source: Deb Price column, The Detroit News, 1997-MAY-23
In 1996-MAY, the US Supreme Court knocked down Colorado's Amendment 2. That amendment to the
Colorado State Constitution would have prevented cities towns and counties from passing
bylaws protecting gay and lesbian rights. It was passed by a majority of Colorado voters
with the support and promotion of many organizations from the Christian religious right.
In a 6 to 3 decision "Romer vs. Evans", the US Supreme Court basically said that it is
unconstitutional for a state to specifically remove rights from a defined group of people,
such as homosexuals.
The court decided that:
The Supreme Court had, in its "Bowers vs. Hardwick" decision in 1986, upheld the
constitutionality of state anti-sodomy laws. By not mentioning that decision in "Romer",
they signaled that the 1986 ruling should not be used in any future gay rights decisions
by lower courts. Arthur Leonard, author of Sexuality and the Law said "an equal
protection claim has to be taken seriously. It can't just be laughed out of court. Courts were
just saying, 'Bowers vs. Hardwick. You lose.' They can't say that anymore."
Chai Feldblum, a influential lawyer on gay cases stated: Bowers vs. "Hardwick was an 800-pound
gorilla in the middle of the room, even if it didn't belong there. And now instead we have this
lovely orchestra playing."
The influence of this decision is being seen in a multitude of instances across the country:
|the US Constitution guarantees of equal protection for all includes gays and lesbians
|anti-gay prejudice is not a legitimate basis for any law |
|The Supreme Court decision torpedoed all outstanding anti-gay ballot initiatives.
|The decision encouraged Federal legislators to press for bills to protect gay jobs
|The decision exposed the religious right's lie that homosexuals were seeking "special
|A lesbian from Georgia lost a job offer after having a holy union ceremony. In the original
case, the three federal judge panel did not accept the ceremony as having any significance.
After Romer, the case was re-argued before an expanded panel; the judges went "out of their
way to characterize her relationship in a respectful way," Ruth Harlow of the Lambda Legal
Defense and Education Fund said. |
|"Romer" was cited by a Florida judge in 1996-NOV to overturn the 1994 Alachua County charter
amendment banning gay-rights laws. |
|Federal Judge Betty Fletcher dissented in a 1997-FEB decision which allowed the Navy to
expel a Bronze Start winner because he was gay. |
|The National Center for Lesbian Rights is using "Romer" in custody battles in Alabama,
Missouri and Tennessee. |
|Legal actions are now being taken against state sodomy laws - particularly those which are
specifically aimed against homosexuals |
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