NY Times Frets Over Supreme Court Threats to Gay Marriage, 'Transgender Women of Color'

July 5th, 2018 2:31 PM

Reporters Liam Stack and Elizabeth Dias offered a Thursday New York Times story headlined “Why the Supreme Court Opening Could Affect Gay Marriage as Well as Abortion,” Besides taking sides on the issue of gay marriage, they resumed the paper’s bad habit of superfluous ideological labeling, with ten “conservative” references in the 1,200-word report compared to a single “liberal” label, in the first sentence. After that, the paper referred to the left-wing support for gay marriage with the friendly term “L.G.B.T. groups.”

In the week since Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced his retirement, the future of Roe v. Wade has dominated the conversation among both liberals and conservatives, becoming a flash point in the partisan battle over President Trump’s pick to fill the seat.

The effect Justice Kennedy’s retirement could have on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights has received less attention. The prospect of a more conservative justice, though, has L.G.B.T. rights groups worried about legal challenges from conservative groups that oppose gay marriage, who may see an opportunity to challenge rulings that have established its legality.


Opposition to Roe v. Wade has been a driving force in American conservatism for decades. But Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 decision that legalized same-sex marriage, is a newer setback for religious conservatives. Many activists said they would welcome the chance to challenge the ruling, but they said it could take years for a case to reach the Supreme Court.

The subhead, "How the challenges might come," revealed the story’s starting point: On the pro-gay marriage side.

Conservative activists and L.G.B.T. groups agree that religious liberty cases could be the most potent challenges to same-sex marriage and other issues concerning gay and transgender people.

These kinds of challenges could bring Obergefell v. Hodges back into play, said Mathew Staver, chairman of the Liberty Counsel, a conservative Christian litigation group that has represented elected officials who resist same-sex marriage.

Mr. Perkins agreed. “If we continue to see the confrontation with religious freedom over the definition of marriage, this issue isn’t going to go away,” he said.

Note that a recent free expression victory for the Christian baker in Colorado is characterized by Stack and Dias as “trouble ahead.”

L.G.B.T. groups have successfully challenged equal protection violations in several states, including Wisconsin and Florida, since 2015. But activists worry that a case from the 2018 session, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, could be a sign of trouble ahead.


But when it comes to a direct challenge to Obergefell, a conservative state, like Kentucky or Alabama, may need to enact legislation that attempts to regulate marriage. That could draw a legal challenge that sets a Supreme Court case in motion, but likely not until at least 2020, he said.

The paper really squinted hard to find a (unsupported) politically correct sliver of the population to worry about.

Advocates for same-sex marriage won a long-sought victory with Obergefell v. Hodges, but it sparked a backlash that complicated efforts to achieve other legal and policy goals. Among those goals: nondiscrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation, like locker rooms and public restrooms, and a robust response to the escalating number of bias-motivated killings, especially of transgender women of color.

The Trump administration has taken steps that run counter to many of these goals....

For good measure, the reporters place "religious liberty" in quotes in one instance.

The story is actually more measured than Stack’s usual gay rights screeds, like his October 2017 story in which he tossed the usual liberal respect for civil disobedience out the window when it came to Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who went to jail rather than issue a marriage license to a gay couple.