The Supreme Court decision to end the constitutional right to abortion has left many in New York City’s gay community fearful of whether same-sex marriage and other rights could be stripped away as well. At Harlem Pride 2002 Celebration Day, held at 135th Street and 12th Avenue on Saturday, revelers danced, hugged and waved rainbow flags. But many said they also felt anxious.
Of particular concern, some said, is language Supreme Court Justice Thomas wrote in his concurring opinion, asserting that Justices “should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents” – pointing to Griswold v. Connecticut (right of married people to obtain contraceptives), Lawrence v. Texas (right to engage in private consensual sexual acts) and Obergefell v. Hodges (right to same-sex marriage) as examples. He called the substantive due process decisions “demonstrably erroneous.”
“It is terrifying,” said Harlem Pride attendee Jose Abrigo, a Queens resident and the director of LGBTQ/HIV Advocacy at Manhattan Legal Services. “Rather than expanding our rights and preserving equality, the Supreme Court is taking us back to the ’50s and making it okay to discriminate again.”
“They have no right to control a woman’s body,” said Dr. Davida Lindsay-Harewood from Montclair, NJ, who came to the event with her two adult daughters. “What comes next? All the gay marriages? she added. “I feel passionate as a mother, as a Christian woman… shame on them.”
In a video posted on its website Friday, the Human Rights Campaign underscored the devastating impact of the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade will have on a vast cross section of Americans who need abortion care, including many members of the LGBTQ community. But it also emphasized that there is no immediate impact on other Supreme Court cases, including those protecting private sex acts and marriage equality.
“Justice Thomas’s concurring opinion is obviously concerning, but it is important to note that not one other Justice agreed with him,” said Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “In fact, the majority took pains to disagree with him and clarify that this opinion relates only to abortion. Justice Thomas stands alone. With that said, we know that if the court was willing to overturn 50 years of precedent with this case, that all of our constitutional rights are on the line. Lawmakers will be further emboldened to come after our progress. So we must be vigilant in our hard-won rights – we are ready.”
Kelvin Stroble, who was visiting New York City from Washington, DC, for Pride, said it’s clear that “people need to vote.”
“It’s not just the Supreme Court,” he said. “We’re seeing firsthand what the lack of voting, apathy to voting and voter suppression laws are doing.”