Entries in Gay Rights (2)


Gay Rights Activists Look to Roe v. Wade Abortion Strategy 40 Years Later

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Demonstrators will take to the streets this week to protest Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion 40 years ago on Tuesday.

The "March for Life" comes two months before another group of advocates -- gay-rights activists -- will head to the Supreme Court to hear a case that could produce their own landmark decision.

Gay-marriage supporters have disagreed at times about a strategy to achieve gay-rights equality, with some of them looking for lessons in Roe v. Wade.

Roe was a landmark decision for its supporters.  They say that abortion is now safer and occurs earlier in pregnancy than ever before.  But some supporters of a woman's right to choose have criticized the decision, arguing in part that the court ruled more broadly than it needed to.

When Roe v. Wade came down, abortion was illegal in 30 states, but some states were pushing toward liberalizing abortion laws.  Roe called into question the criminal abortion statutes of every state, even those with less restrictive provisions.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, before she was nominated to the Supreme Court, wrote an essay in 1984 for the University of North Carolina School of Law arguing in part that Roe would have been "more acceptable as a judicial decision" if the court had focused on the extreme Texas statue that was before it instead of issuing such a sweeping decision.

"The political process was moving in the early 1970s," Ginsburg wrote, "not swiftly enough for advocates for quick, complete change, but majoritarian institutions were listening and acting.  Heavy-handed judicial intervention was difficult to justify and appears to have provoked, not resolved, conflict."

It is something that has not been lost on gay-rights advocates.

In his book, From the Closet to the Altar: Courts, Backlash, and the Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage, historian and legal expert Michael Klarman talks about the backlash Roe created.

"When the court intervenes to defend a minority position or even to resolve an issue that divides the country down the middle, its decisions can generate political backlash, especially when the losers are intensely committed, politically organized and geographically concentrated," Klarman writes.

He writes, "Roe v. Wade generated a politically potent right-to-life movement that helped elect Ronald Reagan president in 1980 and has significantly influenced national politics ever since."

Major gay-rights organizations plotted their own gay-marriage strategy years ago, hoping to move first at the state level to advance their cause to avoid a damaging federal court decision that might slow momentum or slam shut courthouse doors.

"It's no secret that increased political support for marriage equality at the local, state and national levels is obviously very helpful toward our ultimate goal of winning marriage equality across the country, whether it's through the Supreme Court or otherwise," Janson Wu, a staff attorney at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, said.

Nine states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage, and gay-rights advocates believe several other states will soon follow suit.

With that momentum behind them, they will head to the Supreme Court in March for a case regarding California's ban on same-sex marriage.  The case asks a very broad question: Do same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry under the U.S. Constitution?  But there are a number of ways the court could rule in favor of gay rights, without reaching that big question.

Gay advocates want a win.  But some would be satisfied with a narrow victory that would continue the momentum and allow them to work on the state level to get more states on board, before perhaps returning to the Supreme Court.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Lesbian Couple Crowned Homecoming King and Queen

Rebeca Arellano(SAN DIEGO) -- Two California high school students became one of the first lesbian couples crowned homecoming king and queen in the nation this weekend.

Rebeca Arellano, a senior at Patrick Henry High School, was made the school's first female homecoming king when her name was announced Friday at a pep rally.

Arellano's girlfriend, Haileigh Adams, who also attends Patrick Henry High School, was made homecoming queen at Saturday night's dance.

"I was happier than when I won, my little Haileigh has just been announced Homecoming queen and I couldn't feel happier! Thanks to every single one of you! You guys made this happen and we are all part of something huge. I can't fully express how grateful I am. I am in completely shocked that this happen. My girl looks absolutely flawless," wrote Arellano on Facebook Saturday night.

The two girls told ABC News that they're thankful for the abundance of support they've received from family, friends, and students and staff at the school.

Arellano said one of her teachers told her, "Today school is a bit better because of you girls."

Arellano's Facebook wall is covered with congratulatory notes from her friends.

"Thank you all for allowing this change to happen," Arellano posted on Facebook.

Adams said they have received negative feedback as well.

"We have a lot of support, but there are also a lot of people who are angry about it," she said.

"Anonymous Patrick Henry students are saying they're embarrassed and that it's wrong for a girl to take the spot of king. But there's no other way for us to run as a couple. It's not really fair for us not to have the right to run as a couple."

Arellano posted a statement to those who opposed her on her Facebook wall that read: "For all the girls who think tradition should be continued, go back to the kitchen, stop having sex before you're married, get out of school and job system, don't have an opinion, don't own any property, give up the right to marry who you love, don't vote, and allow your husband to do whatever he pleases to you. Think about the meaning of tradition when you use it in your argument against us."

Adams and Arellano both came out their freshman year of high school, and they began dating in February of their sophomore year. They say their parents were supportive both when they came out and when they started dating.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio