LGBTQ Activists Are Bracing For A Nightmare: The Supreme Court Will Ruin Marriage Equality

A county clerk refuses to issue a marriage license to two women, citing an antiquated amendment to the state constitution. Perhaps it’s a far-right state legislator who passes legislation that differentiates marriages between same-sex couples from marriages between opposite-sex couples. It could even be a state executive order allowing anyone in government who has a religious objection to refuse to work on same-sex marriage.

Consider Texas, where the governor has already targeted the LGBTQ community and the state attorney general has expressed interest in defending a sodomy law — not to mention the state Republican Party, whose members control every level of government, officially adopting a platform last month that calls homosexuality a “abnormal lifestyle choice.”

The LGBTQ community’s plaintiffs will win the first federal case — that much is certain. But there will be appeals, and Texas is assigned to the 5th Circuit, the country’s most conservative appellate court, which has only shifted further right thanks to Donald Trump’s six-lifetime appointments. One of those men — all of them men — has spent much of his career working against LGBTQ rights and has called Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage, an “abject failure” that “endangers civic peace.” He could be sitting on that court for the next 40 years.

It only takes one novel case — the right case with the right questions — to pique the interest of enough justices in the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority eager to overturn their institution’s precedent.

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