Legal Pride Month: Recent and Upcoming Cases Regarding LGBT Rights

A gavel and a law book - Rainbow flag
By Christopher Coble, Esq. on June 24, 2019 10:00 AM

June is Pride Month, so every Monday this month FindLaw will be looking at the unique legal issues faced by LGBT members of our community -- what the laws are currently, and what they may be in the near future. We'll be rounding up our coverage of family law, employment rights, and services and accommodation discrimination. This week? We look at upcoming legislation and court decisions that could affect LGBT rights.

The legal landscape is always in flux. This is especially true when it comes to gay, lesbian, transgender, and non-binary rights over the last decade. From same-sex marriage to recognition of non-binary and agender identification on legal documents, the scope of civil rights and legal protections afforded to LGBT people has been expanding, but not without a few setbacks.

Here's a look at a few of those recent cases, as well as some that are currently in front of the Supreme Court, and what the law might look like in the coming weeks, months, and years.

1. SCOTUS Takes Up Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Perhaps the most influential decisions currently being considered by the Supreme Court are a series of cases tackling whether sexual orientation and gender identity are protected under federal employment discrimination laws. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits "sex" discrimination, and while some lower courts have applied that protection to gay, lesbian, and transgender employees, others have not. The Court is expected to clear up the conflict soon.

2. Ban on Gay 'Conversion' Therapy Left in Place by Supreme Court

"Under no circumstances shall a mental health provider engage in sexual orientation change efforts with a patient under 18 years of age," reads California's ban on controversial "conversion therapy" for gay children. Five other states and the District of Columbia also prohibit conversion therapy, and the Court recently allowed those laws to remain in place.

3. SCOTUS Lets Transgender Bathroom Ruling Stand

The Supreme Court has yet to expound on the rights of transgender students more broadly. However, by refusing to overturn a lower court ruling that permitted a school to allow transgender students to use school restrooms that matched their gender identity, the Court hinted that such protections are constitutional.

4. SCOTUS Leaves Transgender Military Ban in Play

Reversing Obama-era policies and against the advice of many military advisors, President Donald Trump banned transgender people from joining the military. Lower courts issued injunctions barring the government from enforcing the prohibition until after the legal cases were decided. The Supreme Court, however, removed those injunctions, albeit without deciding definitively whether the ban was unconstitutional or not. That issue could be upcoming once cases have worked their way through lower courts.

As noted above, the law can change, and quickly. For the most accurate information regarding your legal rights and responsibilities, contact a local civil rights attorney.

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