There was much rejoicing when the Supreme Court ruled that DOMA was unconstitutional and that marriages would be restored in California. However, earlier this week the Supreme Court ruled against a central piece of the Voting Rights Act. This removes major protections on voting rights and reduces the federal government's ability to oversee voting discrimination in areas with a legal history of discriminatory voting standards against minorities, most specifically African-Americans.
Since Tuesday, when the Court struck down the law, six of the nine states that had been included in these areas have already taken steps toward restricting voting. Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Alabama, and Virginia have all made moves towards restrictions that will hinder minorities, young people, and the poor from voting.
The transgender community will also be affected by significant changes in voter laws. During the 2012 election, transgender people were the subject of several transphobic "voting monitor" guides with false claims that transgender people are fraudulent voters and should be denied the right to vote. As many as 25,000 transgender Americans faced having their right to vote challenged or taken away as a result of new strict photo ID laws. And trans Americans face challenges every day, when trying to secure updated ID’s that accurately reflect who they are.
On Tuesday GLAAD, along with various civil rights and LGBT advocacy organizations, issued a statement expressing disappointment at Supreme Court ruling on voting rights, and explaining why the Voting Rights Act is also an issue for the LGBT community. They are joined in the outcry with a variety of other civil rights and LGBT groups. ColorOfChange.org, the NAACP, National Council of La Raza, the Mexican American Legal and Education Defense Fund, and Southerners on New Ground have all spoken out against the Supreme Court and their decision.
ColorOfChange.org, the nation’s largest online civil rights organization, launched FreeToVote.org to build a broad movement for everyday citizens to pledge their support for an amendment that enshrines the freedom to vote in the United States Constitution. To pledge your support for a constitutional amendment that guarantees the freedom to vote for all, click here.
In an interview with NPR current NAACP President Ben Jealous spoke about the opinion, "We understand that our government needs the power to preempt localities and states who are clearly up to racially motivated mischief, trying to block entire groups or parts of groups from the polls. And if that means we need to have this power in every state, so be it. If that means we have to expand the formula, so be it. But the court should have taken the first principle of do no harm. Today, the Supreme Court did great harm. This is a radical decision that takes us way backwards."
Thomas Saenz, president of MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, also spoke about the court's decision "Well, I think that the justice’s comments and, indeed, yesterday’s decision really demonstrate how out of touch the Supreme Court majority is with the reality of life in America today. The simple fact is that this very powerful tool to enforce voting rights against some very recalcitrant, egregious violators through history of the rights of minorities to vote is very important and vital today."
Following the court's opinion the LGBT advocacy group Southerners on New Ground (SONG), came out with a video titled "Marry the Movement" in which the group called for an LGBT movement that is inclusive of all LGBT people and all issues that affect our lives, which include the Supreme Court's recent decisions on Affirmative Action, the Voting Rights Act, the Indian Child Welfare Act and the 5th Amendment.
The protections that have been removed as a result of this ruling had serious consequences and will require more work from all social justice groups. In a statement Rev. Elder Darlene Garner and Rev. Candy Holmes from the Metropolitan Community Church said, "Justice must be lifted up for all people and not just some. Just as we banded together for marriage equality, we must continue the work of justice for marriage equality, voting rights, and women's rights. We are not hardly done."