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LGBTQ, human rights up for grabs

Human rights advocates say LGBTQ rights are at stake in this week’s U.S. midterm elections

When the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was made on June 24, 2022, Justice Clarence Thomas referenced three different landmark court cases in his concurring opinion. Two of these cases define major feats for LGBTQ communities. One of them was Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, which ruled it unconstitutional to criminally punish citizens for consensual same-sex intimacy. The other case Thomas referenced was Obergefell v. Hodges from 2015, which guaranteed the right to same-sex marriage.

(Illustration by Kokopelli staff)

“In future cases, we should reconsider all of this court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence and Obergefell,” Thomas wrote. “Because any substantive due process decision is demonstrably erroneous … we have a duty to correct the error established in those precedents. After overruling these demonstrably erroneous decisions, the question would remain whether other constitutional provisions guarantee the myriad rights that our substantive due process cases have generated.”

Thomas’ concurring opinion was written just months after the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill was signed into law by Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis in March 2022.

The bill states “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”

After the bill was developed and signed, other states began proposing their own bills similar to the one in Florida including states like Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, South Carolina, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Ohio.

If Republicans take over the House majority in this year’s midterm elections, Americans can expect to see more efforts like these to reverse progress that has been made toward LGBTQ equality. In contrast, the Democratic Party promotes a progressive equal rights policy agenda. 

Democrats’ fight for LGBTQ equality is clearly laid out on the official Democratic National Committee website. “Democrats stand with the LGBTQ community’s fight for equality. We are committed to ending anti-LGBTQ violence, bullying, and discrimination, and to ensuring that LGBTQ Americans are treated with dignity and respect in their communities, their workplaces, and their schools,” reads one statement published on the site. 

Concern among LGBTQ voters continue to grow, however, as Republican lawmakers introduce policies that seek to restrict their rights. As of March 2022, 15 states have restricted access to gender-affirming care or are currently considering laws that would do so, UCLA reports. Most Democrats believe if Republicans win majority control of the House they will try to enact federal mandates restricting LGBTQ rights. 


United Nations independent expert Victor Madrigal-Borloz expressed his concerns in a press release after drawing conclusions from a 10-day visit to Washington D.C., Alabama, Florida and California.

“I am deeply alarmed by a widespread, profoundly negative riptide created by deliberate actions to roll back the human rights of LGBT people at the state level,” Madrigal-Borloz said. 

NMSU senior Lydia Ozer expressed her feelings about what she feels is at stake as she prepares to vote.

“I’m very concerned with my rights as a queer person being threatened and used as a target by right-wing politicians and judges,” Ozer said. “Republicans have been very vocal about wanting to push queer people back into the closet. As a trans woman, I find it horrifying how trans people are being used as a point of vitriol to stir up hatred among the right’s base.”

Ozer says voting blue guarantees some assurance that her human rights will not be taken away.

All voters are encouraged to consult votesmart.org in order to research candidates’ biographies, voting records, policy positions, ratings, speeches and funding. Votesmart.org is a nonpartisan organization. Its stated mission is “to provide free, factual, unbiased information on candidates and elected officials to all Americans.”

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