(Photo Credits: Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States / Public domain)
Fight for the things that you care about. But do it in a way that will lead others to join you.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, fondly called as the Notorious RBG, had spent most of her life fighting for the rights of the marginalized—mostly that of the women and the LGBT community. RBG is famously quoted as saying, “I don’t say women’s rights—I say the constitutional principle of the equal citizenship stature of men and women.”
And work hard she did, in order to attain equality for everyone, having experienced many opportunities close their doors on her early on in her life just because of her gender.
Statement from President Obama on the passing of Justice Ginsburg https://t.co/Fj3Y95S20h— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) September 19, 2020
It was the many experiences that made her aware of inequality. It was, for instance, being asked by her dean while attending Harvard Law School “why she was taking up a place that ‘should go to a man.'” This happened in 1956 when she was only one out of nine women in a class of 552—it just goes to show how far things had changed since then.
In another instance, it was being refused entry at a library in Harvard because women were not allowed inside, RBG related, “There was nothing I could do to open the door guarded by a university employee who said, ‘You can’t enter that room.'”
She was also not afforded an interview for a Supreme Court clerkship, even though she came recommended and she graduated at the top of her law school class in Columbia where she transferred from Harvard.
Clearly, the odds had always been against her even way back then, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg persevered.
She paved the way and opened the doors for so many and she managed to do this amidst five bouts with cancer. For the past two decades, she fought colon cancer (1999), pancreatic cancer (2009), lung cancer (2018, when “two cancerous growths were removed from her lungs which was discovered by chance after she fell and broke several ribs”), pancreatic cancer (again, in 2019), and liver lesions (2020).
NPR wrote a detailed account of her life as well as an extensive list of her accomplishments which you can read here. But what she did for the LGBT community alone was immeasurable.
Very recently, she voted for the protection of the LGBTQ workers against discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity (Bostock v. Clayton County). In addition, “Justice Ginsburg joined Justice Kennedy’s majority decisions in many landmark cases in LGBTQ civil rights history, including Romer v. Evans in 1996, Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, Windsor v. U.S. in 2013, and Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015,” according to Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
In Romer v. Evans, an amendment to the Colorado state constitution that prohibited laws protecting the rights of the LGBT community was declared invalid. According to Britannica, it was “the first case in which the court declared that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violated constitutionally protected rights.”
Once upon a time, it was a crime for two consenting adults of the same sex to engage in a “certain intimate sexual conduct” because it “violates the Due Process Clause.” Lawrence v. Texaschanged that, the landmark decision stated that criminalizing gay sex was unconstitutional thereby also invalidating the sodomy laws in a dozen other states.
On June 26, 2013 in Windsor v. U.S., the U.S. Supreme Court “ruled that section three of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) is unconstitutional and that the federal government cannot discriminate against married lesbian and gay couples for the purposes of determining federal benefits and protections.”
Windsor v. U.S. was a very interesting case because “for the first time, a State Supreme Court had ruled that gay couples might have the right to marry.” It’s a case where a spouse was taxed for her inheritance from her deceased wife “as though they were strangers” because the “federal government refused to recognize their marriage.” You can read Windsor v. U.S. in detail here.
On the other hand, the Obergefell v. Hodgesis a 5-4 majority landmark rulingwhere the U.S. Supreme Court declared on 26 June 2015that “the U.S. Constitution protects same-sex couples’ freedom to marry in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories.”
Did you know that Justice Ginsburg officiated many same-sex weddings? And not only was she the first Supreme Court justice to do so, she also officiated one even before same-sex marriages became legal.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away this Friday at her home in Washington, D.C. due to the complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer. She was 87 years old.
Justice Ginsburg was appointed to the United States Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993 making her the “second woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, after Sandra Day O’Connor.”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg served for more than 27 years as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. During that time, RBG worked tirelessly to “be a leading voice for gender equality, women’s interests, and civil rights and liberties.”
RBG’s final wish, conveyed through her granddaughter, Clara Spera, said: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
Thank you, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for everything that you had done for the LGBT community. May you Rest in Peace.
We’ll leave you guys with some of the most touching tributes for RBG that we’ve read online, please feel free to leave yours in the comments section:
— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) September 19, 2020
Well this brought tears. I have been long fascinated by the “Marty and Ruth” love story. So important. “Choose wisely” I tell ambitious young women and men about their partners. #RuthBaderGinsburg https://t.co/KpeCI2M23S— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) September 19, 2020