After a draft opinion showing that the Supreme Court is prepared to vote to overturn Roe v. Wade leaked on Monday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) warned that the conservative-dominated Court will go after gay marriage next as LGBTQ rights come under attack across the country.
The draft opinion, written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, criticizes Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 Supreme Court case that legalized gay marriage, and the Lawrence v. Texas opinion of 2003, which legalized sex between gay couples – though gay people have continued to face prosecution despite this ruling. These decisions aren’t “deeply rooted in history,” Alito wrote in the leaked draft opinion.
As anti-LGBTQ laws have spread across states and LGBTQ activists have sounded the alarm about their rights being taken away, Ocasio-Cortez pointed out that these changes could soon be coming at a federal level.
“As we’ve warned, SCOTUS isn’t just coming for abortion – they’re coming for the right to privacy Roe rests on, which includes gay marriage + civil rights,” she said on Monday. “[Sen. Joe] Manchin is blocking Congress [from] codifying Roe. House has seemingly forgotten about Clarence Thomas. These two points must change”.
House Democrats have passed legislation that would effectively legalize abortion across the country, barring states from implementing abortion bans like Texas’s restrictive law that was upheld by the Supreme Court last year.
But Democrats don’t have the votes to pass the law in the Senate, nor do they have the votes to overturn the filibuster in order to pass the legislation through a simple majority vote. Progressive lawmakers say that the party has failed to whip Manchin in line with the rest of the party over the past year, and the fact that the West Virginia senator is anti-choice only exacerbates the issue.
Ocasio-Cortez has also called for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to resign over his wife’s ties to the January 6 plot to overturn the certification of the 2020 election results. If Democrats don’t step up and vote to impeach Thomas, she said, there will be dire consequences for the party. Though Thomas is part of a conservative supermajority on the Court, replacing Thomas with a liberal justice would help to slightly balance the scales against far-right influence in the High Court.
Democrats have a mandate to act swiftly to protect reproductive rights and other civil liberties, the New York lawmaker wrote. “People elected Democrats precisely so we could lead in perilous moments like these– to codify Roe, hold corruption accountable, & have a President who uses his legal authority to break through Congressional gridlock,” Ocasio-Cortez continued on Monday.
“If we don’t, what message does that send? We can’t sit around, finger point, & hand wring as people’s futures + equality are on the line,” she said. “It’s time to be decisive, lead with confidence, fight for a prosperous future for all and protect the vulnerable. Leave it all on the field.”
Indeed, as law scholar Marjorie Cohn wrote for Truthout in December, overruling Roe could just be a starting point for the conservative justices seeking to outlaw rights at the federal level. “If the Supreme Court retracts the right to abortion, other rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution are also in jeopardy, including the rights to contraception, homosexual conduct and same-sex marriage,” Cohn wrote.
At the state level, LGBTQ rights are aleady being quickly eroded. Republicans, who have become nearly synonymous with fascists and the far right, filed nearly 200 bills in the first three months of this year clearly aimed at attacking trans and gay kids’ very right to exist and designed to restrict the teaching of LGBTQ-related topics in schools.
“If you are out here saying ‘marriage equality is next’ please do keep in mind that at least one state has made care for trans youth a felony right now and is currently in court defending that law,” wrote lawyer and trans activist Chase Strangio on Tuesday. “There is no ‘next’ – the horror is NOW.”