May 20 - 1996 - Romer v. Evans is Handed Down

In 1992, Colorado's voters approved a new amendment to the state constitution, which specifically forbid any governments in the state to create laws which banned discrimination against gay, lesbian, or individuals. Unsurprisingly, it was challenged in the courts, and also unsurprisingly, it was taken all the way to the Supreme Court, in the case of Romer v. Evans. There, the justices ruled by a 6-3 vote that the Amendment violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy largely avoided ruling on gay rights as much as he addressed the fact that the amendment was worded strangely and sought to single out gay people specifically for an indeterminate range of actions. He said it did not even come close to needing the standard of strict scrutiny because it was hard to see its practical effect. On the other side, Justice Antonin Scalia argued that the law could stand because the Constitution says nothing about rights for gay, lesbian, or bisexual people. Thus, Romer v. Evans highligted the increasing divide on the Supreme Court and in American jurisprudence in the 1990s.

William Floyd