With Roe dead, some fear reversal of LGBTQ rights and others

Missouri Supreme Court Abortion (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The US Supreme Court decision allowing states to ban abortion immediately sparked alarm on Friday among LGBTQ advocates, who feared the ruling could someday allow for a reversal of legal protections for gay relationships and access to contraception.

In the majority opinion of the court that overturned the Roe v. Wade in 1973, Judge Samuel Alito said the ruling applied only to abortion. But critics of the court’s conservative majority dismissed that claim.

And in a separate competing opinion, Judge Clarence Thomas said the court should review other precedents, including its 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage, a 2003 decision striking down laws criminalizing gay sex, and a 1965 decision. declaring that couples have the right to use contraception.

“Let’s be clear. Today is about this terrible invasion of privacy that this court is now allowing, and when we lose a right that we trust and enjoy, other rights are at risk,” said Jim Obergefell, plaintiff in the historic same-sex legalization decision. marriage, who is now running as a Democrat for the Ohio House.

Opponents of abortion celebrated the potential for states to ban abortion after nearly 50 years of being barred from doing so. Some also argued that the case had no implications beyond that, noting Alito’s specific statement.

“And to ensure that our decision is not misinterpreted or mischaracterized, we emphasize that our decision concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other rights,” wrote Alito. “Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not pertain to abortion.”

Still, said Paul Dupont, a spokesman for the conservative American Principles Anti-abortion Project, conservatives are optimistic about the potential for future victories on cultural issues, although getting more states to ban abortion is “a huge enough battle.”

“If there’s a thought that this might apply elsewhere, you know, they’re not going to say that here, and we’ll just have to see,” Dupont said.

Many abortion opponents insist that taking down Roe will not affect access to birth control or LGBTQ rights. Other factors may also protect those decisions: Obergefell’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage was based on equal protection, and hundreds of thousands of couples trusted it to marry, a precedent that many courts are loathe to upset.

Still, a sharp rise in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in the US and opposition to some forms of birth control from some sectors of the right have left advocates worried about the vulnerability of these rights.

The three most liberal members of the court argued that the majority decision “violates a fundamental principle of the rule of law, designed to promote the constancy of the law”.

“By doing all this, you jeopardize other rights, from contraception to intimacy and same-sex marriage,” they said.

Then there’s Thomas’ concurring opinion, which Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the pro-LGBTQ Human Rights Campaign, called an invitation to “act out fringe organizations, fringe politicians who want to harm the LGBTQ community.”

“There are clearly members of the court who have an outdated notion of what America looks like today and have a fantasy of returning to their painted idealism of a 1940s, 1950s America, certainly not what it really was in the 1940s and 1950s.” she said. “And that’s scary.”

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, a Democrat, called the decision “dangerous” and warned that it splits the nation in two. He predicted there will be “a tsunami of radical litigation and legislation designed to further erode the rights we take for granted.”

“Make no mistake – this is just the beginning of a systematic effort by the right to rewrite decades of fundamental legal precedent,” he said.


Associated Press writers Jessica Gresko in Washington, Susan Haigh in Hartford, Connecticut and Julie Smyth in Columbus, Ohio contributed to this report.


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