Marriage equality, along with other LGBTQ rights, was a hard-fought civil right, decades in the making, that millions celebrated just a little over a year ago. As the United States, and the watchful eyes of the rest of the world, reels from the unexpected victory of Republican Donald Trump, queer folks are rightly concerned with what will happen to their right to marry over the next four years.
First things first: nothing will happen immediately. However, over the course of the next four years LGBTQ people, advocates, and defense organizations may have their hands full on six LGBTQ front.
1) Marriage Equality. In order for same-sex marriage rights to be repealed, a new case would have to go to the Supreme Court. The earliest a decision could be made is June 2018, if a case even makes it that far. The Supreme Court, however, is a major priority for the president-elect. Trump previously said that he would “strongly consider” overturning marriage equality with a very conservative Supreme Court.
2) First Amendment Protections. Trump is in support of the First Amendment Defense Act, which protects discrimination on religious grounds and prohibits the government from taking action against anyone who believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman. In other words, anyone with a religious objection to same sex marriage can act on that without fearing prosecution.
3) Trans rights. LGBTQ advocates are most concerned about trans rights. Trump previously supported disregarding advice from the Departments of Justice and Education and allowing schools to discriminate against transgender students.
4) Military exceptions. LGBTQ advocates fear Trump could roll back administrative changes, such as those benefiting LGBTQ veterans or status of forces agreements allowing service members to bring a same-sex spouse with them overseas, or halting movement on lifting the ban on openly transgender service.
Beyond the regression of progressive national laws and executive orders that have afforded LGBTQ people more rights, there are still gaps in America’s state-by-state patchwork of non-discrimination laws. According to the Human Rights Campaign, only a handful of states including California, Illinois and New York prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Still a few more protect sexual orientation only or protect public employees only.
The coming administration will likely not support further protections as, according to Time, Vice-President-elect Mike Pence voted against The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would have banned discrimination against people based on sexual orientation in 2007. He later said the law “wages war on freedom and religion in the workplace.”