A new pattern continues to emerge as courts, as well as local, state, and federal legislatures, spurred by cultural and political changes across the country, are applying the principles of equality to sexual orientation and gender identity. Just as acceptance of the LGBTQ community has moved from the fringe closer to the mainstream of American culture in recent years, the battle for equal rights has become a flourishing area of the law.
Proceeding in fits and starts, positive changes in how the law treats gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals has been less the result of a single court ruling or piece of legislation than collective response to the shift in public attitudes about sexuality and gender identity. Polls show an increased acceptance of LGBTQ individuals nationwide, and movies and television programs now portray these characters in an increasingly positive fashion.
Despite these gains, discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals is alive and well in America. Gaps in current federal law omit an entire segment of the population from a variety of laws protecting against a number of different arenas in which discrimination occurs: employment, housing, health insurance, the justice system, and others. Simply put, LGBTQ Americans are still treated under law as second-class citizens.
Changes in laws affecting LGBTQ people have largely responded to the shift in public attitudes rather than driven them. For example, the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case which made marriage equality the law of the land occurred after public support had risen above 50%.
As time goes on, we find LGBTQ issues attracting more and more attention. Since the passing of marriage equality, we have seen more than 100 vehemently anti-LGBTQ pieces of legislation introduced in states across the country.