In 1996, then Senate hopeful Barack Obama wrote “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages” (Weinger). The timing of the statement could be directly related to then President Bill Clinton signing into law DOMA, or the Defense Against Marriage Act, initiated by Congress in a bold move that “prevented the federal government from recognizing any marriages between gay or lesbian couples for the purpose of federal laws or programs, even if those couples are considered legally married by their home state” (GLAAD). However, two short years later, then Senator Obama in the midst of reelection was quoted as “’undecided’… in response to…‘Do you favor legalizing same-sex marriage?’” (Weinger). Coincidentally as President Obama’s view on legalizing same-sex marriage were devolving while running for public office, potentially for fear of isolating valued voters, former President Clinton’s had evolved since leaving office, as evidenced by his support for same-sex marriage in New York in 2009 saying, “I changed my position” (Epstein).
The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community faces unique challenges and discrimination in comparison to other underserved communities. The reason they are often discriminated against, either directly or indirectly through legislation, is for religious objections. Many religious denominations consider homosexuality a sin, and in some countries punishable by death, such as Yemen and Iran (Rupar). In the United States however, LGBT are often treated as second-class citizens. Similar to African-American’s “separate, but equal,” LGBT have been given civil unions in select states. Civil unions are intended to grant same-sex couples select equal rights, in an attempt to keep the institution of marriage between one man and one woman. Following DOMA however, the social climate intensified between those “for” and those “against” equal marriage rights, none more notorious than the fight in California.
In 2000, Proposition 22 (further referred to as Prop 22) was placed on the California ballot and passed overwhelmingly by a 61% margin, effectively changing the “California Family Code to formally define marriage…between a man and a woman” (BallotPedia). While same-sex marriages weren’t conducted in the state, Prop 22 did prevent the state from recognizing legal same-sex marriages conducted in other states, mirroring the government’s actions four years earlier in DOMA (Robinson). This growing movement of religious interest groups to outright deny the LGBT community of liberties and rights granted to their heterosexual counterparts sparked a journey to fight for equality in California (CBS).
Lawrence v. Texas can be seen as the first national milestone for the LGBT community. The United States Supreme Court case in 2003 criminalized sodomy laws that sought to prevent relations between same-sex couples. While the case didn’t deem anti-gay marriage bans as unconstitutional, it did...