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SOTU EXTRA: Same-sex rulings
March 2nd, 2014
09:20 AM ET

SOTU EXTRA: Same-sex rulings

By Paige Hymson

Many observers call it the most rapidly changing social issue of our time. State legislatures and American voters have made widespread modifications over the past years regarding same-sex marriage rights and freedoms. Last month, Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage was deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge. This comes alongside a series of recent federal court rulings that are overturning state’s bans against same-sex marriage.

A federal judge ruled this month that Kentucky’s denial to recognize same-sex marriage violates the United States constitutional right to equal protection under the law. Similar rulings have recently been made in states such as Oklahoma and Utah. Nevada’s state legislature decided earlier this month that it will no longer defend the ban of marriage of gay and lesbian couples in the state. However there are some states that are countering this pro LGBTQ movement, by passing and creating legislation that restricts same-sex marriage rights in their states.

Arizona’s recently failed attempt to pass a “religious freedom” bill was at the forefront of political debate. The bill would have allowed businesses to deny service to gay customers, citing religious beliefs as the reason for doing so. Now Georgia is attempting to mirror Arizona’s failed bill with its own anti-gay legislation, the “Preservation of Religious Freedom Act”.

The efforts for same-sex marriage and gay equality rights date back nearly a century ago. In 1924, “The Society for Human Rights” was founded in Chicago as the first ever recognized gay rights organization. It wasn’t until 50 years later in 1974 that homosexuality was removed from the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. For years, there were large vacancies in time where no movements, legislations, or efforts were taken regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) rights and freedoms.

Today, legislation that questions the constitutionality of rights for gay and lesbian individuals is the subject of constant debate both federally and nationally. Now same-sex marriage is legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia. And most recently, the Texas state ban on same-sex marriage was struck down this week. A great deal of federal legislation is underway, as more and more states examine the issue of same-sex marriage.

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