Gay marriage advocates push for post-Roe protections

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — As the nation awaits a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a Mississippi law that calls for a ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, LGBTQ advocates are pushing to codify protections for same-sex marriage in states across the country.

Since the leak of a draft opinion alluding to the fact that the court could overturn the right to abortion, concerns have grown over whether the judges could then overturn other decisions that are based on the “right privacy” that the court described in Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion nationwide almost 50 years ago.

The leaked opinion written by Judge Samuel Alito, a member of the court’s 6-3 conservative majority, explicitly states that the decision concerns abortion and no other rights.

But legal experts have speculated that similar logic could be used to overturn other decisions, including Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 case in which the court found the ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

“We need states across the country to say, ‘We see you. You exist. You deserve respect. And you deserve protections, because your relationship is no different than any other,” said Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the landmark case, who is now a Democratic candidate trying to become an Ohio state legislator. .

Before the Supreme Court struck down bans and legalized same-sex marriage, 31 states had enacted laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying. The laws are no longer in effect since the courts ruled them unconstitutional, but they remain in effect in most of these states.

For years they were considered obsolete and received little attention, but the changing makeup of the Supreme Court led several states to remove them from their statutes and constitutions. Virginia and Nevada repealed their old bans in 2020, and New Jersey codified marriage rights for same-sex couples in 2021.

“We should all be concerned about our other basic rights that have been won through the courts over the past decade,” Utah Sen. Derek Kitchen, a Democrat and the state’s only LGBTQ lawmaker, said of the steps of the State House. Tuesday.

Kitchen and New Jersey Assemblyman Don Guardian, a Republican, want more states to remove same-sex marriage bans from their laws and codify the rights of LGBTQ couples to prepare for the worst-case scenario in which the Supreme Court decides to overturn the same decision of 2015. – sex marriage decision.

“I would be very concerned for any state that does not pass the same kind of legislation now before the court rules (on abortion) so that it can protect its LGBTQ+ residents who have married,” the Guardian said. , who is gay.

Although the New Jersey law passed with bipartisan support, similar moves to codify same-sex marriage rights could face uphill battles in Republican-led legislatures that have begun to revisit LGBTQ issues with a grain of salt. rediscovered zeal.

Some have moved to limit LGBTQ subjects from school curricula and regulate health care for transgender youth. At least a dozen, including Utah, have passed laws limiting sports participation for transgender youth.

Kitchen likened state bans to “trigger laws” that many Republican-run states have enacted to prepare for a scenario in which Roe v. Wade is canceled and states can start limiting abortions again.

But he expressed optimism that same-sex marriage has been embraced enough in Utah that the codification of protections for LGBTQ couples will gain widespread support.

“Utah is a family state. We support families, we know how important it is to provide stable units for children to grow up,” he said.

Kitchen added: “We have already decided as a community that marriage equality is a value we hold dear. So yeah, that’s something that has a chance of happening in Utah.

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