ABSTRACT

InlateMayof1996,asIcompletedcopy-editingthemanuscriptofthisbook,the

movementforlesbianandgayrightsandliberationwonitsfirstmajorvictoryin

theUnitedStatesSupremeCourt.InRomerv.Evans,theCourt,withasurprisinglystrongsix-to-threemajority,ruledthatAmendment2totheColoradoCon-

stitution,theresultofastate-widereferendum,violatedtheU.S.Constitution's

guaranteeofequalprotectionofthelaws.Thatamendmentrepealedthoseprovi-

sionsinthelawsofsomecitiesthatextendedcivilrightsprotectiontocitizensdis-

criminatedagainstbyreasonoftheirsexualorientationandprohibitedallstate

legislative,executive,orjudicialactionsdesignedtoprotectlesbianandgayciti-

zens.Citingthenineteenth-centuryjusticeHarlan'sadmonitionthat"theConsti-

tutionneitherknowsnortoleratesclassesamongcitizens,"theCourt,inan

opinionbyjusticeAnthonyKennedy,heldthatnorationalrelationshipexisted

betweenthedenialofprotectiontotheclassofcitizensof"homosexual,lesbianor

bisexualorientation"andanylegitimateinterestofthestate.Indeed,theCourt

heldthat"...theamendmentseemsinexplicablebyanythingbutanimusto-

wardstheclassthatitaffects...." 1

TheSupremeCourthasvindicateddecadesofstrugglesfortheequalityof

lesbianandgaycitizens.Althoughthefulllegalimplicationsofthedecisionwill

becomeclearonlythroughsubsequentlitigation,itspoliticalandethicalsalience

isevident.TheCourthasspokenwithapowerfulvoiceontwoofthemostimpor-

tantmatterscurrentlyatissueinAmericandemocracy:theentitlementofhomo-

sexualstofullcitizenshipundertheU.S.Constitutionandthecharacterof

anti-discriminationprotectionasaconditionofdemocraticequalityratherthana

"specialright"grantedtofavoredminorities.TheCourtheldinthemostun-

equivocaltermsthatnolegitimatestateinterestcouldsupportthebroaddenialof

rightstolesbianandgaycitizensinColorado'sAmendment2:"...lawsofthe

kindcurrentlybeforeusraisetheinevitableinferencethatthedisadvantageim-

posedisbornofanimositytowardstheclassofpersonsaffected."Citinganearlier

case,theCourtconcludes,"...abare...desiretoharmapoliticallyunpopular

groupcannotconstitutealegitimategovernmentalinterest."AlthoughtheholdingdirectlyaffectsonlytheColoradoamendmentandsimilarlawsunderconsiderationinotherstates,theCourt'srationalereachesmuchfurther.Quitesimply,it hasdeclaredthatthedisapprovalofhomosexualitybypopularmajoritiescannot justifydifferentialtreatmentoflesbianandgaycitizensunderthelaw.