The history of LGBT rights and marriage equality in the United States offers many areas to explore in a research paper.
The latest comes courtesy of the North Carolina state legislature, which, in a special session, overruled previous anti-discrimination legislation established earlier in the year in Charlotte, North Carolina.
How North Carolina state legislature got to this point
For years now, the state of North Carolina has figured prominently in the country’s culture wars, as the state’s more liberal cities have clashed with rural areas that are predominantly conservative. That came to a head on March 23, 2016, as the North Carolina state legislature convened a special session to overturn an ordinance passed in Charlotte in February 2016. “North Carolina Overturns LGBT-Discrimination Bans” for The Atlantic on March 24, 2016, by David Graham shared the details of the overturning of the anti-discrimination legislation.
He wrote, “The law not only overturns Charlotte’s ban: It also prevents any local governments from passing their own non-discrimination ordinances, mandates that students in the state’s schools use bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate, and prevents cities from enacting minimum wages higher than the state’s.”
A research paper could examine how the new North Carolina law will conflict with the Supreme Court’s June 2015 decision allowing marriage equality, as well as how this may serve as a template for other states to turn back anti-discrimination legislation.
Continuing controversy over LGBT rights
Marriage equality and LGBT rights are topics that both the pro and con side are passionate about, as evidenced by the opinions swirling around the outcome of the special session of the North Carolina state legislature. “It takes a real Heel to block LGBT rights in North Carolina” posted by Jonathan Capehart on March 24, 2016, for The Washington Post PostPartisan blog, shared information on not only the happenings in North Carolina, but also the potential for a similar bill against anti-discrimination legislation in the state of Georgia.
Capehart wrote, “The Republican governor of Georgia is being urged not to sign a so-called religious freedom bill into law. On Wednesday, Gov. Nathan Deal received a letter signed by 34 Hollywood actors, writers, producers and directors calling on him to not sign the legislation. The day before, Disney and Marvel warned Deal they would take their film production business elsewhere if he did so.” A research paper could study the effects of activism efforts to affect change in terms of marriage equality and LGBT rights in other parts of the country.
More anti-discrimination legislation to be overturned
Many who are for marriage equality and LGBT rights in general saw the June 2015 Supreme Court decision as a big step forward. However, while these same people may have hoped that the ruling would be the final word, republicans at the state level have refused to accept the Court’s opinion. Whether there have been other times that a Supreme Court decision has sparked similar rebellion at the state level is another research topic to write about for a political science or law-focused class.
“States of Rebellion: Prodded by Religious Right Groups, Legislatures around the Country Are Trying New Schemes to Block Marriage Equality” by Sarah E. Jones for the March 2016 issue of Church & State shared more on other states’ efforts to turn back anti-discrimination legislation and stop marriage equality. She explained that there aren’t any legal precedents that support a state refusing to enforce a Supreme Court ruling. To get around this, states are instead creating other ways to turn back LGBT rights. Jones wrote, “So-called “religious freedom” bills began appearing with increasing frequency in state legislatures roughly two years ago. According to their sponsors, these bills are simply rewrites of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).” Another research topic could examine how these bills are similar or dissimilar to RFRA.
Are you worried about more anti-discrimination legislation in other states after the North Carolina state legislature decision? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.