from Political News
According to Wardenski, while the Lawrence decision is considered a "significant legal advance" in the quest for equality for gays, lesbians, and transgendered individuals, it has been wrongly interpreted to exclude "minor" gays from full legal equality.
Wardenski points to Justice Kennedy's statement in Lawrence that says: "the present case does not involve minors." Wardenski believes this should not be interpreted to exclude gay teens from full equality, but refers instead to adult sex offenders who may prey upon gay teens and use Lawrence in justifying their actions.
The author argues that Lawrence must be interpreted to "render any discrimination against youth on the basis of sexual orientation constitutionally suspect."
He asserts that Lawrence found that sexual orientation forms the core of a person's identity; that gay people are a distinct class with constitutional interests; that discrimination against gays' basic human liberties is not permissible; and that traditional morality "cannot trump these basic liberty interests." Lawrence also lifted "the presumption of criminality" and eliminated a significant basis for state-enforced discrimination" against gays.
Wardenski is concerned that a misinterpreting of Lawrence on the issue of sexual liberty and gay teens may be "used to discriminate against LGBT teenagers and to prevent them from forming critical support networks." He observes: "There can be no rational basis for 'protecting' youth from themselves, when such protections actually cause them more harm than good."
The author believes that Lawrence can be used effectively for force courts to consider whether "anti-gay actions are rooted in animus and societal prejudice" and "justifies increased judicial scrutiny of policies and practices that treat LGBT youth in child welfare and juvenile justice facilities differently." He is optimistic that Lawrence can also be used to justify the placing of troubled gay teens in gay foster parenting homes.
Additional Reading: Adolescent Homosexuality; Working with Teenagers; 'The New Gay Teenager'