Supreme Court ruling affirms employment protections for LGBTQ Americans
Chief Justice John Roberts and Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch joined the four liberals on the U.S. Supreme Court in a 6-3 decision ruling that the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“An employer who fires 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,” wrote Gorsuch, the author of the majority opinion, which was handed down today.
The decision comes in a case involving two gay men and one transgender woman who had been fired from their jobs and sued alleging discrimination.
Prior to today’s ruling, discrimination against the estimated 11 LGBTQ Americans was technically legal in much of the country.
Less than half of U.S. states have laws on the books prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who filed an amicus brief in the case arguing that sexual orientation and gender identity are protected under Title VII, said in a statement today that “equality wins again.”
“Repeatedly when people have tried to challenge the rights and protections of the LGBT community they have failed,” Herring said. “This landmark lawsuit is a huge win for the LGBT community and for equality across this country. No one should ever have to fear being discriminated against in their workplace or losing their job because of who they love or how they identify. Every single Virginian and every single American deserves equal protection under the law.
“This decision is a massive step forward for antidiscrimination in this country, and I will not let up in doing all that I can to make sure the LGBT community is protected both at the state and at the federal level,” said Herring, who in 2014 became the first attorney general in the country to challenge his own state’s same-sex marriage ban, helping to take the issue all the way to the Supreme Court, which in 2015 legalized same-sex marriage.
Congressman Donald McEachin, D-Va., praised today’s ruling as a “watershed victory for LGBT equal diginity.”
“Still, there remains more work to be done,” McEachin said. “Congress must pass the Equality Act to guarantee these protections in every instance, including those not currently covered by federal civil rights law. No one should face discrimination simply because of who they are or who they love.”
Story by Chris Graham