US Supreme Court backs LGBT workers’ protections
The US Supreme Court has advanced the cause of LGBT workers’ protections by ruling that current federal law forbids job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status.
Despite the high court becoming increasingly conservative, they voted 6-3 that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal for employers to discriminate because of a person’s sex, among other factors.
This also covers sexual orientation and transgender, proving a major win for advocates of gay rights and the transgender rights movement.
Ruling on LGBT workers’ protections
In another surprising move, the decision was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, who is President Donald Trump’s first Supreme Court appointee.
Gorsuch was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, as well as the high court’s more liberal members to form a majority.
In the decision, Gorsuch wrote: “An employer who fired an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex.”
“Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids,” he added.
“Those who adopted the Civil Rights Act might not have anticipated their work would lead to this particular result,” he noted.
“But the limits of the drafters’ imagination supply no reason to ignore the law’s demands. Only the written word is the law, and all persons are entitled to its benefit,” he wrote.
LGBT advocates laud high court ruling
Rights groups celebrated the ruling, with Sarah Kate Ellis, president of GLAAD, saying: “The decision gives us hope that as a country we can unite for the common good and continue the fight for LGBTQ acceptance.”
James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT & HIV Project, said the high court “has caught up to the majority of our country, which already knows that discriminating against LGBTQ people is both unfair and against the law.”
Gerald Bostock, who was fired from his Georgia county job after he joined a gay softball team, said in a release put out by the Human Rights Campaign: “There are truly no words to describe just how elated I am.”
“Today, we can go to work without the fear of being fired for who we are and who we love. Yet, there is more work to be done,” Bostock said.
He added: “Discrimination has no place in this world, and I will not rest until we have equal rights for all.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the decision “a victory for the LGBTQ community, for our democracy and for our fundamental values of equality and justice for all.”
Sexual orientation and gender identity
Lawyers on both sides had argued on whether the authors of the Civil Rights Act had intended it to apply to cases involving sexual orientation and gender identity.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act forbids employers from “discriminating against employees on the basis of sex as well as gender, race, colour, national origin and religion.”
Under the Obama administration, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said it included gender identity and sexual orientation.
The Trump administration had rolled back some protections in healthcare and other areas. During the legal battle, the Department of Justice told the court to rule that Title VII does not cover cases like these.
In reaction to this decision, President Trump said, “They’ve ruled and we live with their decision. That’s what it’s all about, we live with the decision of the Supreme Court.”