Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in 2015,” liberal icon and pioneer Ruth Bader Ginsburg advanced LGBTQ rights. In 1993, President William Clinton nominated her to the High Court. She, replacing retiring Bryon White, took her oath of office from Chief Justice William H. Rehnquest at the White House. At the time of her appointment, she was a Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
New Definition of Inclusive Marriage
Ginsburg not only could be counted on to enhance rights of women, protect affirmative action and minority voting rights and defend a woman’s right to choose an abortion. Gay rights were civil rights to Ginsburg. “Marriage today is not what it was under the common law tradition, under the civil law tradition” rationalized Ginsburg when Justice Robers and Kennedy began to worry whether the Supreme Court had a right to challenge traditional marriage. Her 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, recognized the right to marry and struck down states’ bans on same-sex marriage and extended full marriage throughout the U.S..
Her bottom line was that gay marriage would not weaken the institution of marriage nor would it take away from heterosexual couples. All of the benefits that marriage affords would still be available to everyone. Ginsburg joined rulings that advanced same-sex marriage including Windsor vs. U.S. in 2013 which struck down the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, Hollingsworth v. Perry in 2013, that restored same-sex marriage to California after Proposition 8. She played a role in legalizing gay marriage in 2015 that made the federal government recognize gay marriage in June 2013.
Her Views on Sex Discrimination
Justice Ginsburg, in Bostock v. Clayton Co., joined the decision that found anti-LGBTQ discrimination a form of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The broad ruling grants protections for LGBTQ people wherever there are laws against sex discrimination, including employment, housing, health care and education.
True to her values, she began officiating gay marriages from 2013 to 2015. Some were students of hers from her teaching days at Columbia Law School (she was one of nine women at Harvard Law in 1956).
For all her wisdom, Ginsburg received accolades from the heads of LGBTQ organizations for her twenty-seven years on the bench:
- Alphonse David, President of the Human Rights Campaign, said “her decades of work helped create many of the foundational arguments for gender equality in the United States. Her decisions from the bench demonstrated her commitment to full LGBT equality.”
- Governor Gavin Newsom commented that “Ginsburg joined the majority for every decision for LGBTQ rights from the Supreme Court.”
- Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, reported in a statement upon her death she was a “giant of justice, a champion for equality and purpose. We are so grateful for all Justice Ginsburg has done for LGBT people, for sex-based discrimination that harmed not just women, but men and families.”
Straight parents of LGBTQ children are grateful too. Now, their children can marry whom they please, perhaps feel less closeted, and know her thinking was behind many of the laws that now benefit them.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.