Legal Decisions relating to contraception and
*Poe v. Ullman, (web link)US Supreme Court 1961, letting stand Connecticut's ban on contraception, because no one had been prosecuted, but see Harlan's dissent which has been credited as the first clear exposition of privacy rights.
*Griswold v Connecticut,
(web link) US Supreme Ct 1965 (the first supreme court ruling that famously cited
individual privacy rights, struck down Connecticut's law which prevented
even married couples from purchasing birth control).
Baird, (web link) US Supreme Ct 1972 (struck down a Massachusetts law which had
prevented unmarried persons from accessing birth control, thereby expanding
the Griswold decision).
*Roe v Wade, (web link) US
Supreme Ct 1973 (guaranteed abortion rights and forced all 50 states to
legalize first trimester abortions, and second trimester abortions with
*Planned Parenthood v. Casey,(web link)US Supreme Court 1992, upholding Roe.
*Doe v. Commonwealth's Attorney, (web link) US district court 1975 (upheld Virginia's anti-sodomy law), US Supreme court denied Cert on the appeal, so the lower court ruling stood.
*Bowers v Hardwick,
(web link) US Supreme Ct, 1986 (upheld Georgia's anti-sodomy law).
*Lawrence v Texas,
(web link) US Supreme Ct, 2003 (reversed the Bowers decision and struck down Texas's
anti-sodomy law, and by extension all the state laws against sodomy).
Child Custody and other Guardianship Cases:
*Palmore v. Sidoti, (web link) 1984, U.S. Supreme Court ruled that (white) Linda Sidoti Palmore's remarriage to a black man was not grounds for her to lose custody of her daughter from her first marriage.
* In re Guardianship of Kowalski, (web link) a 1991 Minnesota case in which the parents of car accident victim Sharon Kowalski were initially given guardianship over Sharon, rather than sharon's lesbian partner who had no legal standing. Minnesota Court of Appeals eventually reversed and gave guardianship to the partner.
In the Matter of Jacob (web link) was a 1995 NY state Court of Appeals decision, which gave unmarried partner parents (including same-sex partners) the right to cross adopt their partner's children.
*Burns v Burns, (web link) Georgia 2002, denying Susan Burns' Vermont Civil Union as a Marriage, and therefore denying her custody of her children.
*Bottoms v. Bottoms (web link), a Virginia custody case that turned, in part, on Sharon Bottoms' having had female partners, which the trial judge claimed made her an "unfit parent."
*Perez v Sharp,
(web link) California Supreme Ct 1948 (struck down California's anti-intermarriage
law, and set a precedent for similar action in other states).
*Loving v Virginia,
(web link) US Supreme Ct 1967 (struck down Virginia's law against racial intermarriage,
helped establish marriage as a fundamental right, and by extension made all
the state laws against interracial marriage unenforceable). Take a look at
this interesting map of which states had laws against interracial
marriage, and when.
* Baker v Nelson,
(web link) Minnesota 1971, a case in which the Minnesota Supreme Court rejected
Baker's claim that his inability to marry his male partner in Minnesota was
unconstitutional. The Minnesota Supreme Court noted the dictionary
definition of marriage as relating to couples of the opposite sex. Baker
appealed to the US Supreme Court, which rejected his appeal "for want
of a Federal question," which for a while established the precedent
that the US Supreme Court did not recognize same-sex marriage as a
*Three cases in a series whereby Adams and Sullivan have their Colorado same-sex marriage denied, and therefore Sullivan's right to stay in the US also denied: Adams v. Howerton 1980, Adams v. Howerton 1982, and Sullivan v. INS 1985 (web link; and note Pregerson's dissent). See also this news report.
*Turner v Safley,
(web link) US Supreme Ct 1987 (found, among other things, that prisoners had an
inalienable right to marry).
*Baehr v Miike,
Hawaii trial, 1996 (the first trial of same-sex marriage rights where the
state had to meet a high standard of evidence for why they wanted to deny
same-sex couples the right to marry; the court's decision was a victory for
*Brause v. Bureau of Vital Statistics 1998, Alaska state case supported same-sex marriage plaintiffs but was over-ruled by state referendum banning same-sex marriage.
*Baehr v Miike,
Hawaii reversal after state constitutional amendment, 1999 (after the state
of Hawaii passed a constitutional amendment to make same-sex marriage
illegal in Hawaii).
*Baker v State,
Vermont, 2000 (the decision that forced Vermont to adopt same-sex union
rights for gay couples).
*In Re Gardiner,
(web link) Kansas, 2002 (the decision that voided that marriage of Gardiner and Ball
because of Ball's previous sex change).
v Dept Public Health, MA 2003 (the decision that forced Massachusetts
to adopt full marriage equality for same-sex couples).
Brien, Iowa 2009 (the decision that has brought marriage equality to
*US v Windsor, (web link) US Supreme Ct 2013. The
5-4 decision that overturned section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act,
which had prevented the US federal government from recognizing same-sex
marriages that were legally entered into in the states or or in other
countries. The American Sociological Association issued an important amicus brief in the
Windsor case, explaining the social science consensus that children raised
by same-sex couples are at no disadvantage.
v Hodges, (web link) US Supreme Ct 2015. This 5-4 decision made same-sex marriage
legal in all 50 states.
A selection of Marriage cases post
Windsor leading up to the the Supreme Court's Obergefell
decision in 2015. See also this helpful gay marriage timeline.
* Griego v Oliver,
New Mexico 2013. This unanimous decision in New Mexico's Supreme Court
cleared the way for same-sex marriage in New Mexico.
* Kitchen v Herbert,
US District Court in Utah, 2013. This federal court decision overturned
Utah's state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, and the district
court decision was upheld by the Federal 10th district court of appeals.
Since the US Supreme Court refused on October 6, 2014 to hear Utah's appeal
of the 10th circuit's decision, Utah (and the rest of circuits 4, 7, and
10) became same-sex marriage states.
* Bishop v
Oklahoma, US District Court in Oklahoma struck down Oklahoma's ban on
same-sex marriage, following appeals, Oklahoma became a same-sex marriage
state in 2014.
* Bostic v Rainey, US
District Court in Virginia, 2014, overturning Virginia's ban on same-sex
marriage; the district court decision was upheld on
appeal by the 4th circuit, and same-sex marriage is now the law in
* De Leon v. Perry, US
District Court in Texas, 2014, overturning Texas's ban on same-sex
* DeBoer v. Snyder,
US District Court in Michigan, 2014, overturning Michigan's ban on same-sex
marriage. This was the only one of the post-Windsor cases to have a trial,
and I was privileged to participate as a witness. The appellate court overturned
the trial judge's decision, but not his findings of fact. I participated in
this case as an expert witness. DeBoer-related documents are here.
* Whitewood v. Wolf,
US District Court in Pennsylvania, 2014, overturning Pennsylvania's ban on
same-sex marriage, making Pennsylvania a same-sex marriage state.
* Robicheaux v. Caldwell, a 2014 US District Court
decision that was the first of more than 20 federal court decisions to
uphold a state ban against same-sex marriage, in this case the Louisiana
state ban, which was subsequently reversed by the Supreme Courtís
* The 7th circuit court of appeals decision, written by
conservative scholar and judge Richard Posner, affirming (in an emphatic
way) lower court decisions which had struck down Indiana's and Wisconsin's
same-sex marriage bans. State appeals to the US Supreme Court were denied,
so Indiana and Wisconsin became same-sex marriage states. See also the 9th circuit
appeals decision, overturning Idaho and Nevada's bans on same-sex
The Four California same-sex marriage cases:
v. San Francisco, California 2004 (ordering San Francisco to stop
marrying same-sex couples and nullifying the marriage of same-sex couples
at San Francisco city hall until the court could rule on the
constitutionality of California's same-sex marriage ban).
*In Re Marriage
Cases, California, 2008 (deciding that California's same-sex marriage
ban was inconsistent with California's constitution, forcing the state to
allow same-sex couples to marry)
*Strauss v Horton,
California 2009 (acknowledging the legality of Proposition 8, which amended
the California constitution to redefine marriage as only between a man and
a woman, but the decision also upheld the legality of the same-sex
marriages performed in California in 2008).
Schwarzenegger, US district court 2010, overturning California's
Proposition 8, because it violated US constitutional protections. The state
of California declined to appeal the ruling, but private parties took up
the appeal. In a 2013 decision (issued June 26, 2013), Hollingsworth v
Perry, the US Supreme Court decided that the private parties did not have
the standing to appeal the decision, so the district court trial decision
stands, and Proposition 8 has been overturned.
*ONE v Olesen 1958, a one sentence unsigned US Supreme Court reversal of
a 9th circuit decision. By reversing, the US Supreme Court allowed gay magazine ONE to publish and to use the mails. See also Manual v. Day, (web link) 1962, which was a full signed decision, establishing that homosexuality in content was not the same as indecency.
*Boutilier v. INS, (web link here) 1967, US Supreme Court, upholding the INS exclusion of homosexuals as migrants to the U.S. Note Douglas's dissent. Congress overturned the immigration ban on homosexuals in 1990.
*Two Navy dismissal cases, Beller v. Middendorf 1980 (decision by Kennedy) and Dronenburg v. Zech (1984, decision by Bork). An Army dismissal case, Watkins v. US Army 1988, with an interesting opinion from the 9th circuit about immutability of homosexuality, and its relationship to homosexuals being a protected class.
*Romer v Evans, (web link) US
Supreme Court 1996. An
important Supreme Court decision that struck down Colorado Amendment 2,
which had been passed by state referendum. Amendment 2 had invalidated all
local Colorado measures that protected gays and lesbians against
discrimination. In a 6-3 decision, Anthony Kennedy wrote that Colorado's
Amendment 2 put homosexuals in a solitary class and imposed a special legal
disability upon them, which violated the US constitution's 14th Amendment.
*Boy Scouts v. Dale 2000 (web link), in which the US Supreme Court found that the Boy Scouts had the right to dismiss gay scout leader Dale, but note Stevens' dissent.
Masterpiece Cakeshop 2018 (web link), in which the US Supreme Court found that a Colorado baker had the right to refuse to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, despite a finding from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that the baker's act had been discriminatory.