Wake Forest Law Expert: LGBTQ civil rights and SCOTUS

Exterior photo of the U.S. Supreme Court building

(Winston-Salem, N.C., June 15, 2020) — The Supreme Court has ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act federal anti-discrimination laws protect gay and transgender employees. Wake Forest University School of Law assistant professor and historian Marie-Amélie George says, “The Supreme Court’s decision is particularly important given that voters have been repealing LGBTQ rights protections at the state and local levels through ballot box measures. The opinion demonstrates just how important the Supreme Court is to protecting the rights of minorities.”

Here are some initial thoughts George has regarding today’s ruling:

  • “That the ruling has come in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic is particularly striking, since the Court’s first major LGBTQ rights case came during the AIDS crisis, another immense and frightening public health emergency. In 1984, the Court upheld state laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sodomy in an opinion that demeaned gay and lesbian couples. Today, the Court has upheld LGBTQ rights, providing striking evidence of American law’s transformation.”
  •  “In the span of one generation, American law has moved from criminalization of LGBTQ couples to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. Today’s ruling that the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, also protects LGBTQ employees is the culmination of decades of work at the community level to reform the laws.”
  • “Law reform at the community level has allowed gays, lesbians, and transgender individuals to be open about their sexual orientation. The visibility around same-sex and transgender couples has fostered political, social, and cultural shifts that made additional legal change possible.”

Video: Prof. Marie-Amélie George on landmark SCOTUS ruling

George is writing a book on the dramatic transformation of gay and lesbian rights in the United States during the late twentieth century. She is available for phone, email, and internet interviews.

Media Contact: Stephanie Skordas, 336-758-5719, skordas@wfu.edu