Go to contents

US court rules homosexual discrimination unconstitutional

US court rules homosexual discrimination unconstitutional

Posted July. 01, 2013 07:14,   


The Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act, which specifies systematic discrimination against same-sex couples, unconstitutional and overruled California’s Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriages. This ruling is a major breakthrough in the civil rights movement for sexual minorities of LGBT -- lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders. But there is still a long way to go for same-sex couples until they can achieve a complete equality across the U.S.

The Supreme Court judgment has no leverage when it comes to constitutions of 29 States that limit the marriage bond to couples of different sexes.

Social prejudice and disfavor still exist. A case in point is suicide of Tyler Clementi. Tyler, who was an 18-year-old student at Rutgers University, New Jersey, committed suicide on Sept. 22, 2010. The cause of his death, which was revealed after several months of his death, shocked the country. One day, Dharun Ravi, an ethnic Indian student and Tyler’s roommate, came to know that Tyler was a gay. Sometime later Dharun installed a candid camera in their room and broadcasted live the scene of Tyler and his boy friend kissing. Knowing that his privacy was publicized, Tyler, a talented violinist with delicate sensitivity, suffered greatly. After posting words hinting suicide, he went to the George Washington Bridge, which connects between New Jersey and New York City, and jumped to his death.

Tyler’s death brought about heated debates over hate crime for homosexuality and cyber bullying. In May 2012, two years after Tyler’s death, the debate grew even fiercer because the court ruled against Dharun only 30-day detention, 300-hour social service and 11,900 dollars of donation and fines, which were significantly light punishment for an action responsible for Tyler’s death. This result was because the court saw Dharun’s action as a bias crime, not a hate crime.

Hate crimes refer to actions of terrorism or threaten against homosexuals, ethnic minorities, believers of certain religions, the socially disadvantaged, etc. based on unreasonable prejudice or hatred. The judge said, “I do not believe he hated Tyler Clementi... but I do believe he acted out of colossal insensitivity” and recognized only relatively light charges such as infringement on privacy and attempt to destroy evidence. The victim’s family and civil rights groups for homosexuals criticized the ruling by saying, “Dharun’s cruel act killed Tyler.” The ruling, however, remained the same.

After the tragic death of their son, Joe and Jane, the parents of Clementi, established the Tyler Clementi Foundation for rights of same-sex couples. They stopped going to the church they attended for many years because the church opposes same-sex marriage. The couple’s another son James is also a gay. About the need for support for same-sex marriage and the prevention of hate crime against homosexuals, Jane said, “There are not only those who harass homosexuals but also many people who regard homosexuals inferior to them.”

U.S. President Barak Obama mentioned the stonewall riots in his State of Union Address this year while calling for human rights protection for minorities. The stonewall riots led to the gay liberation movement in the U.S. In June 1969, New York police raided the Stonewall Inn where a lot of homosexuals used. Against the raid, a series of violent demonstrations by gays who had been oppressed for decades took place across the U.S.

Jane said she became aware after the death of her son that there are many young people who are discriminated and suffering as a result just because they are gays and many people do not know harassing homosexuals is a serious crime. After the ruling that said the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, she said, “We’re only at the beginning stage, but I’m convinced more than ever that we are on the right track. This judgment saved countless lives.”