Romer v. Evans SCOTUS Ruling Upholds LGBT Civil Rights Protections

"One century ago, the first Justice Harlan admonished this Court that the Constitution ‘neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.’ Unheeded then, those words now are understood to state a commitment to the law’s neutrality where the rights of persons are at stake. The Equal Protection Clause enforces this principle and today requires us to hold invalid [Amendment 2]."

- Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion

In 1992 Colorado voters passed an amendment to their state constitution called simply “Amendment 2.” Its purpose was to neutralize all existing legislation within the state that granted civil rights protections to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgendered people. The constitutionality of the Amendment eventually came to the U.S. Supreme Court for adjudication. In a 5-4 ruling the Court struck down Amendment 2 on May 20, 1996. The majority opinion – written by conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy – stated that Amendment 2 “...identifies persons by a single trait and then denies them protection across the board. [It] is based in 'animus,' or hatred, against a specific group of people… [classifying] homosexuals not to further a proper legislative end but to make them unequal to everyone else... Amendment 2 violates the Equal Protection Clause…the resulting disqualification of a class of persons from the right to seek specific protection from the law is unprecedented in our jurisprudence." Beyond restoring the validity of Colorado’s existing gay rights laws, the Supreme Court’s majority opinion was the first language to describe homosexuals as “a class of persons,” a precedent that would prove to have a significant impact on future Supreme Court rulings on matters relevant to the legal status of LGBT people.


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