The Supreme Court decided not to consider two LGBT-interest cases this week but there are more to come—including a review of states’ right to ban same-sex marriage, which many believe is being fast-tracked.
The Supremes passed on a review of McDonald v. Moose, which involves Virginia’s sodomy law. (Yep, they still have one on the books.) The question at hand was whether or not the state could enforce such a sodomy law after Lawrence v. Texas if it applied to adults soliciting minors for sex.
Also spurned was the appeal of a University of Toledo staffer who was fired for writing an an op-ed that condemned the term “civil-rights” victims to describe gay people. Crystal Dixon, a HR manager at U of T, wrote about her distaste for comparisons between civil rights struggles of gay people and those of African Americans. The U.S. Court of Appeals had previously ruled that, because they related directly to Dixon’s job, her public statements were not protected by the First Amendment.
But that’s not the end of the line for gay rights and the Supreme Court—several cases with important consequences are still under consideration.
Elane Photography v. Vanessa Willock
New Mexico photographer Elaine Huguein refused to shoot the wedding of a lesbian couple, who maintained that was a violation of the state’s law banning discrimination in public accommodations. Though Huguein maintained her religious beliefs should trump local ordinances, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in August that her First Amendment rights weren’t violated and that “[businesses that] choose to be public accommodations must comply” with law. The court stated Huguein’s company could still “post a disclaimer on their website or in their studio advertising that they oppose same-sex marriage.”
Should the Supreme Court choose to take Elane Photography v. Vanessa Willock, the case could seriously impact anti-discrimination laws nationwide.
Pickup v. Brown
The notoriously anti-gay legal group Liberty Counsel is appealing California’s new ban on reparative therapy for minors. In late August, a U.S. Court of Appeals panel reversed an injunction against instituting the ban until the appeal had been reviews, stating that the law “is neither vague nor overbroad, and does not violate parents’ fundamental rights.” Right now, Liberty Counsel is requesting a review of the panel’s decision, but Pickup v. Brown could find its way to the Supremes soon enough.
If it does, it could impact similar efforts to ban conversion therapy in other states.
Keen News Service reports that there are currently 35 major lawsuits in 19 states all challenging bans on marriage equality.
The farthest along and most likely to reach the Supreme Court first is one by Lambda Legal out of Nevada. That case, Sevcik v Sandoval, was dismissed at the federal district court level but Lambda has an appeal pending before the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and briefing closes on or two weeks after November 18.
A second lawsuit, Jackson v Abercrombie, against Hawaii’s ban on same-sex marriage, has final briefs due to the Ninth Circuit on December 23 or two weeks thereafter. Depending on how quickly the Ninth Circuit moves on the cases, they could potentially be appealed to the Supreme Court this session but they would likely be heard next session.
Pro-equality advocate are appealing a marriage ban in Pennsylvania, where Montgomery County clerks defied state law to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. (The state’s Commonwealth Court ordered them to stop, but an appeal has been sent to the state Supreme Court.)
There are also serious appeals in Virginia, New Jersey and Illinois.