Beyond Decision | Diversity: issues in higher education
The leaked draft of the opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States in Dobbs v. Jackson Women‘s Health Organization not only sparked nationwide alarm and protests among women’s rights activists and scholars, but also jeopardized many hard-won gains for LGBTQ+ rights in several states.
A first draft majority opinion written by Judge Samuel Alito and circulated within the court was obtained and published by Policy. An article in Policy explained that if the project becomes final, the decision will overturn the 1973 landmark Roe vs. Wade decision that guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights and a subsequent 1992 decision, Family planning c. Caseywhich has maintained this right to a large extent.
Dr Sara Warner, director of LGBT studies at Cornell University and associate professor of performing and media arts, said the leaked opinion “whether enacted or amended will fuel the war already underway in this country against LGBTQ+ citizens, and especially trans people of color.”
Warner says she is particularly concerned about the trans community of color due to recently passed and proposed laws. “More than 20 anti-trans bills have become law in the past three years, and in the first months of 2022, more than 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures, with more others on the horizon,” Warner said. Various.
Several colleges and universities have released statements from faculty members denouncing the implications of the project and expressing concerns about its impact on LGBTQ+ rights.
One of Warner’s colleagues at Cornell, Dr. Katherine Sender, professor of communication and feminist, gender and sexuality studies, said in a statement posted on the university’s website in May: “I see a direct link between the possible reversal of Roe vs. Wade and the risk of backsliding on LGBTQ civil rights. We already see a parallel conservatism with Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. But the Roe vs. Wade The issue is a bit different because it challenges the right to privacy that also underpins the overturning of anti-sodomy laws, and thus marriage equality.
Sender adds that she views the leaked opinion as the final step in a long-term strategy.
“What we’re seeing is the conservative right wing of the Republican Party playing the long game of bringing reactionary judges into the courts at all levels, now most worryingly the Supreme Court, so the courts are actually far more conservative — anti-women’s rights, anti-LGBTQ rights — than the general population,” Sender said in the statement.
‘Kick in the constitutional legs…’
Columbia Law School released an advisory from its think tank, the Law, Rights and Religion Project, which includes a statement from Dr. Katherine Franke, James L. Dohr Professor of Law.
“While the draft notes that the ruling does not address other issues such as contraception, same-sex marriage and laws criminalizing same-sex relations, Justice Alito’s draft opinion straddles the constitutional legs of rulings recognizing those rights. , and it’s hard to see what constitutional principles they will rely on if that view becomes law,” Franke said in a statement released by Columbia’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, where she is director. “If this opinion is officially rendered by the Court, it will eliminate not only the constitutional protections of abortion, but also the well-established legal principles on which fundamental human rights have been based for more than 60 years.
Warner notes that the final decision, if left unchanged, could have a twofold impact on LBGTQ+ people. “First, LGBTQ+ people need and deserve access to abortion, just like cisgender and heterosexual people,” Warner says. “Second, this is just the beginning, the tip of the iceberg, in the erosion of our civil liberties and our hard-won legal victories.”
Warner further explains that the leaked SCOTUS notice states that only rights “deeply rooted in the history and tradition of this nation” and “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty” are protected, with the five signatories refusing to define the issue as a right of personal autonomy and control of one’s own body. “That’s what concerns me,” Warner wrote in an email to Various. Alito suggests in his dissent from Obergefell that the right to same-sex marriage is not one of those rights deeply rooted in American history and tradition. “If that’s not a telegraphed threat, I don’t know what is,” Warner remarks.
“Springboard or Slippery Slope”
Dr. Godfried Asante, Assistant Professor of Communication at San Diego State University, researches and publishes on race and LBGTQ+ issues in the United States and Ghana. He says he sees similarities between the two countries, especially around the role of evangelicals in the anti-abortion movement. “Because I study LGBT rights in the United States and in West Africa, I have seen what these evangelical groups are looking for, what kind of national identity, what kind of nation they are looking for,” says Asante. He says measures are being proposed in Ghana to toughen the repressive laws that already exist and to ban discussion of LGBTQ+ issues on social media in schools and other public spaces.
Regarding the Dobbs draft, Asante says, “The reasoning is my greatest concern, and whether that reasoning will be the stepping stone or the slippery slope to the dissolution of other rights.” He adds that in the draft bill, “the way in which [ Alito] wrote that it shouldn’t be applied in other contexts – I don’t believe so, and I don’t believe so because of what’s already happening in states like Idaho, Florida, and Texas. I think it would be extremely naive to assume that the reasoning applied in the project cannot be applied in other contexts.
Asante compares Ghana’s existing and proposed anti-LGBTQ+ laws to those in the US “Looking at what’s happening in Ghana and what’s happening in the US, I see similar tactics,” he says. The effort in Ghana is being used to push for the enactment of even tougher laws that target trans women, just as laws passed in various US states have marginalized trans students and athletes, Asante says.
Bills preventing trans youth, especially girls, from participating in women’s sports continue to be introduced by state legislatures, even though in most of these states the number of trans students seeking to compete is tiny – for example, two out of 180,000 students a year in Michigan, according to the Detroit Free Press. LGBTQ civil rights group The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in June 2021 challenging Florida’s “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” which prohibits transgender women and girls from participate in women’s sports. The HRC argues that the law violates both the Constitution and existing federal anti-discrimination law. HRC also sued Tennessee over its legislation restricting restroom use for trans students and challenged the Trump administration’s attempt to end discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people in the Affordable Care Act.
Pending the Court’s final opinion on Dobbsgiven the onslaught of legislative attacks already on LBGTQ+ rights, researchers are far from optimistic.
“We have regressed into a sphere of political ignorance with naysayers claiming that LGBTQ+ people are moral threats, child molesters, groomers and recruiters,” Warner says. She says the regression is exemplified by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill “and his bullying of Walt Disney.”
Warner adds, “I am a Southerner, from Louisiana, and am enraged and saddened by this and by the Governor of Texas. [Greg] Abbott’s suggestion that parents who provide affirmative health care to their trans offspring are child abusers. This onslaught, led largely by white, male, religious ideologues, is escalating with no end in sight.