The Supreme Court delivered a surprise victory to the LGBT community this week when it ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination in employment. This victory was far from certain, but even sweeter given how the ruling played out. The majority opinion in the case, Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, was written by Trump’s conservative appointee, Justice Neil Gorsuch. This surprised nearly everyone left, right or center.
The case arose when Gerald Bostock, an employee of Clayton County, Georgia, was fired after he had joined a gay softball league. The Court concluded this was discrimination based on sex, because had Gerald Bostock been female and attracted to men, there’d be no issue. His gender was the problem.
Gorsuch wrote in the decision, “Consider, for example, an employer with two employees, both of whom are attracted to men. The two individuals are, to the employer’s mind, materially identical in all respects, except that one is a man and the other a woman. If the employer fires the male employee for no reason other than the fact he is attracted to men, the employer discriminates against him for traits or actions it tolerates in his female colleague.”
Held: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII. – Majority Opinion, Supreme Court of the United Sates
This action by the Supreme Court, I think, is even bigger than the 2015 Marriage Equality decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. And that was gigantic! It legalized marriage for millions. But all LGBT people need jobs, married or not. And now we all have federal protection. And in particular, this is the very first federal court ruling protecting transgendered people.
A Closer Look at the Ruling
These first videos are a few of the more detailed reports that examined the ruling.
A Battle Won; The War Goes On
We won this battle — a major one! — but the war goes on. It’s still legal to discriminate against LGBT people in public accommodations like restaurants, stores, hotels, healthcare, etc. As mentioned in the videos above, Congress is now considering the Equality Act which would provide comprehensive protections across-the-board to LGBT people — rights and protections that heterosexuals take for granted.
Gabriel Arkles, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Rights Project, was interviewed this week on American Public Media’s Marketplace Morning Report.
History of Anti-LGBT Job Discrimination
So what was it like before this week’s ruling? These videos from past years provide a vivid look at the problem of anti-LGBT job discrimination and its consequences.
Title image: Mark Thomas from Pixabay
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