Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights in the United States

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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The basis of the problem concerning gay rights is the issues surrounding the moral nature of same-sex marriages and the provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act which defined marriage as a union comprising of a woman and a man as wife and husband. One of the progress made by the group and the country is the Supreme Court striking off that definition in 2013 during the U.S. v. Winsor case. The constitutional changes and rallied support for same-sex marriages resulted in a shift of discussion on the morality of same-sex marriage to the need to ensure everyone experiences equal justices and enjoy their civil rights such as the ability to offer care to dependent children, spousal benefits, right to marry and social justice at the workplace. Therefore, making headways towards fulfilling the foundation of the American constitution which was equal rights to all.

Gay Rights in The U.S.

The basis of the American Constitution is the affirmation that Americans need to enjoy equal rights under the law as provided by the fourteenth amendment. But even with the provision of equal rights for every U.S citizens, for too long once a person identifies as a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, the person experiences the same laws protecting him or her for being a law-abiding citizen become a weapon for segregation and means to deny the person his or her rights. The Supreme Court has been pivotal in the improvement of rights for the LGBT group by issuing rulings that declared it unconstitutional to ban gay marriage at State level through stressing the importance of the fourteenth amendment in the Obergefell v. Hodges case. Additionally, the rallied support led by the then sitting president Barrack Obama ensured the initiative to legalize same-sex marriages acquired more supports from the voter. In the matter relating to the LGBT, it is a violation of the law since it displays discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation by obstructing the U.S. citizens in this group from enjoying the full extent of their civil rights (Sagapolutele, 2015). Therefore, until each person identifying with the LGBT can enjoy equal rights and freedoms as the heterosexuals, the constitutional promise of equal rights for all will remain unfulfilled.

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Opponents of the Gay rights

There is a shift in the notion and narrative on homosexuality. In 1996, the polling results set to show the number of U.S. citizens supporting gay marriages and the results were 27% of the population. Two decades later the support is at 67% of the population which marks America as one of the most liberal nations concerning the issues surrounding LGBT. However, despite the shift in homosexuality opinion, numerous Americans still denounce homosexuality based on religious doctrines that recognize marriage to be between a man and woman. Hence, indicating that homosexuality rights and beliefs trample over the religious freedom act (Howard, 2015). Since the religious freedom law passed in over 20 states declares that the State laws protect a business, group or person from facing charges of discrimination on the foundation of sexual orientation provides a protected means for a religious person to deny a person their civil rights based on their religious belief (Sagapolutele, 2015).

Furthermore, Supreme Court ruled in favor of a baker at Colorado, Jack Phillips, who withheld his services from making a cake for a same-sex couple citing religious faith about marriage being between a man and a woman. Despite, the narrow nature of the outcome of the Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd et al. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission et al. case, the question of the validity of gay rights is still a debating matter especially concerning religious freedom. The opinions against same-sex marriages contend that individual states should make their own decision on their opinion to legalize same-sex marriage. The opponents further claim the validity of religious freedom law is a form of equal rights to all. The opponents claim that requiring every American not in support of gay marriage to offer services to them is trampling over their faith and rights. Hence, legalizing of same-sex marriage should not be a means to invalidate religious faith and allow every religious person to offer no assistance on the form of hiring and services to a lifestyle deemed sinful and immoral (Stern, 2015).

Supporters of gay rights

For years, activists of gay rights fought for social acceptance and equal rights through reshaping the notion surrounding homosexuality in the mainstream culture. The measures taken by groups like the Gay Liberation Front was to encourage the homosexuals in the community to publicly accept their sexual orientation. The laws in the country allowed for homosexuals to face evictions from their residency, lawfully not permitted to engage in sodomy sexual act due to anti-sodomy act, trying to secure employment opportunities, violent attacks from the opponents of homosexuality and prosecution by the law. All these were challenges faced during the 20th century. The first substantial step for the gay group was the overturn on the anti-sodomy laws which the Supreme Court declared it infringed on the right to privacy during the case of Lawrence v. Texas. Therefore, allowing gay people to engage in sodomy as sexual activity without facing prosecution. Hence, the gay group made a step further of freedom from living demeaning lives of secrecy.

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Another headway for the support of gay rights was passing the Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009 to commemorate Mathew Shepard and James Bryd who died in 1998 due to torture for being gay. The law took a step further to eliminate the problem of gay people facing violence acts from the opponents of gay rights by expanding the definition of hate crime to include criminal activities facilitated by religious differences, race, color, national origin, disability, gender identity, gender or sexual orientation. The 2013 redefinition of marriage in the constitution to strike off the description of marriage as that between a man and a woman only and two years later the passing of same-sex marriage law which allowed homosexual spouses to enjoy the rights heterosexual partners enjoy. These shows the headway the country is making towards living up to the foundation of the American constitution which is to provide equal rights to all (German, 2015).


The conversation surrounding homosexual rights dates backs to the 20th century where the set laws infringed on the rights of homosexuals and drove the anti-homosexuality narrative. The law effected this through anti-sodomy laws which infringed on the right to privacy act, promoting hate crimes towards people who publicly declare their sexual orientation as homosexuals, exclusion from the marriage act, denial of spousal benefits and social justice at employment sectors and residency. The LGBT community have been able to make headways by the pivotal help of the Supreme Court and the former president Barrack Obama where the community has been able to legalize same-sex marriages, expansion of hate crimes to include violence against the members of the community, spousal privilege and removal of anti-sodomy act. However, the community faces the issue of infringement on their rights through the religious freedom law passed in over 20 states declaring a religious person is free from facing discriminatory charges on the grounds of sexual orientation. Therefore, showing that until each person identifying with the LGBT can enjoy equal rights and freedoms as the heterosexuals, the constitutional promise of equal rights for all will remain unfulfilled.


  1. Mark Joseph Stern, (2015). Obergefell Will Bring Marriage Equality to U.S. Territories. That Wasn’t a Sure Thing. Slate, 2015-JUL-09, at: http://www.slate.com/
  2. Fili Sagapolutele, (2015). US territory reviews gay marriage ruling,” Boston Globe, 2015-JUL-11, at: https://www.bostonglobe.com/
  3. German Lopez, (2015). The Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in the US after years of legal battles. www.vox.com
  4. Howard Hills, (2015). Op-Ed: Same-Sex Marriage another ‘fundamental right’ inapplicable in U.S. Territories? Samoan News, 2015-AUG-31, at: http://www.samoanews.com/

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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights in the United States. (2021, May 14). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-rights-in-the-united-states/