Abortion bill leaked from Supreme Court raises fears about future of same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights
Standing atop the Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains, Mario Oranday waited for his partner, Andrew Baumgarten, to survey the endless tree-lined hills before kneeling down and gingerly reaching for the ring he was wearing.
He had asked a nearby couple to film his marriage proposal, and Baumgarten’s resounding “Yes” was forever filmed.
Later, informing his family, Oranday’s father and grandfather talked about a leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade by the Conservative majority.
Oranday isn’t sure if they were trying to scare him or worry about his future, but the implications of the project have spread like wildfire through Oranday’s LGBTQ community.
Leaked Supreme Court ruling, if final, would directly impact access to abortionbut legal observers say it could also have wider repercussions as it suggests a majority of the court interprets the US Constitution as not including the right to privacy – a right that formed the basis of marriage homosexuality and access to contraception.
The Supreme Court has upheld the authenticity of the project but has yet to issue a final decision. Chief Justice John Roberts has launched an investigation into the source of the leak.
Oranday and Baumgarten had planned to save money for a year and invite friends and family to an elaborate wedding. Now they planned to run for mayor and get marriage licenses as soon as possible.
“Gay marriage didn’t become legal until the Obama days, which isn’t that far back, and if they can do that with Roe, imagine what they can do to us,” he said. Oranday.
Since the project was leaked, same-sex couples have flocked to Eric Patton, an ordained minister, for last-minute weddings. Of the four he refereed, only one was scheduled in advance.
“It’s on everyone’s mind right now. And if anyone has a bigger wedding planned in the future, I recommend everyone get their licenses and certificates as long as we know that ‘they still can,’ Patton said, adding that he has two more planned for this summer.
A couple asked him to include Judge Anthony Kennedy’s landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, who ruled that the right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito, who support Roe’s annulment, also opposed same-sex marriage. Alito wrote in his dissenting opinion that same-sex marriage should be left to the state.
Tennessee has also passed several laws restricting the rights of members of the LGBTQ community in recent years.
In April, Governor Bill Lee signed legislation banning transgender athletes from participating in women’s varsity sports. Last year, Lee signed a bill requiring student athletes to prove their gender matched what was listed on their original birth certificate. He signed another requiring businesses to allow transgender people to use any restroom they choose to post notices.
Tennessee also allows private child placement agencies to discriminate against couples based on their religious views. In January, a Knoxville couple sued the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services after a Christian adoption agency denied them service because they are Jewish.
“If they’re going to defer every decision to the state like we saw they try to do in the leaked decision, LGBTQ couples in Tennessee are in trouble,” Patton said.
Same-sex marriage only became legal during the Obama era, which isn’t that far away, and if they can do that with Roe, imagine what they can do to us.
Conservative Republicans are already discussing pursuing other constitutional privacy rights, said Abby Rubenfeld, an attorney at the Rubenfeld law firm who acted as co-counsel for several plaintiffs in the Obergefell case.
Which is ridiculous, Rubenfeld said.
“It’s ridiculous to say that the word ‘abortion’ is not in the constitution. The word ‘women’ is not in the constitution. This is not how we determine rights,” she said.
“The issue is the fundamental right to privacy, which is implicit and inherent in the constitution. No, he doesn’t mention that word, but by the implications and everything the constitution does, there is a right to privacy,” she added.
During the Trump administration, three conservative justices were appointed to the Supreme Court, creating a conservative supermajority. The three judges – Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch – had all spoken of Roe as precedent during their confirmation hearings, but avoided final positions.
These judges have proven to be “extremely partisan and extremely political,” Rubenfeld said.
“None of them should be there, and all of them are basing that on political beliefs,” she said, adding that Kavanaugh, Barrett and Gorsuch were rushed into their positions without proper investigation.
“This is not a neutral Supreme Court. This is a Supreme Court where the majority want to impose their own conservative beliefs and bring our country back, not even to 1950. They want to go back to 1850,” he said. she stated.
If Roe is overturned, other privacy-based decisions could be next, such as interracial marriage and access to birth control, legal watchers have said.
Across the country, conservative lawmakers are already considering restricting certain types of emergency contraception and intrauterine devices, such as IUDs. In Louisiana, lawmakers are considering classifying abortion as homicide, and Texas Republicans talked about adopting measures to prevent women from having abortions elsewhere.
But they oppose public opinion, according to the Pew Research Center. According to one of its surveys, 19% of adults support legal abortion in all cases; 71% favor mostly legal or illegal abortions with exceptions; and only 8% maintain that abortion is illegal in all cases.
Get morning headlines delivered to your inbox
Once the right to privacy is overridden and the government can regulate anything that affects someone’s life, everything is on the table, Rubenfeld said.
“This decision is scary. It’s really very wide. Alito, he mentions this (marriage equality) case in particular, and conservative Republicans are already talking about using this decision to overturn decades and decades of privacy case law,” she said. declared.
The Tennessee General Assembly won’t resume session until next year, giving liberal cities time to prepare, she added.
In the meantime, Oranday and Baumgarten have yet to make a final decision on whether they will rush to get married or possibly leave Tennessee.
“I love Nashville. I love my friends and I love my community. It gave me a sense of belonging,” Oranday said. “We’ve worked hard to call this our home, so why should we giving it away because of an asshole.”
“I will only stay in Tennessee for my job to help support Mario,” Baumgarten said.
As they ponder their future, the couple hold each other tight. Baumgarten proudly wears her engagement ring and Oranday wears his on a silver chain.
This story was first published by Tennessee Lookout, part of the United States News Bureau Network, which includes Louisiana Illuminator.