The Power of Dignity
21 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2015 Last revised: 1 Nov 2015
Date Written: October 27, 2015
Obergefell v. Hodges is not a perfect decision, but the Court’s powerful recognition of the dignity to which gay men and lesbians are entitled is a watershed accomplishment worthy of celebration. In the last 50 years, the place of gay men and lesbians in American society and American law has changed dramatically. It is a long distance from the American Psychiatric Association’s classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder and the potential for a gay person to fail the character and fitness requirement for bar admission merely for being gay. The Supreme Court also has made significant shifts. It reified the stigma of homosexuality in Bowers v. Hardwick, but then rejected the legal ostracizing of gay and lesbian people in Romer v. Evans, and ultimately embraced the dignity of gay men and lesbians in Lawrence v. Texas, U.S. v. Windsor, and Obergefell v. Hodges. The Court’s decision not to clarify Equal Protection doctrine — among other potential shortcomings of the decision — should not overshadow the tremendous contribution of the decision to enhancing the long-denied dignity of gay men and lesbians in the courts and more generally.
Keywords: marriage, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, LGBT, Obergefell, dignity
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