The LGBTQ community won a landmark case on Monday morning, barring discrimination of sexual orientation of any kind in the workplace. This closely watched case was viewed as being the first big test for the seemingly imbalanced conservative court. In retrospect, it was not even a close call. It was a landslide victory in a 6-3 vote.
“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,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court.
It hit directly against the recent decision of President Donald Trump to limit healthcase for transgender people, an issue which should now be made mute by this recent Supreme Court ruling.
Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Brett Kavanaugh dissented.
“The Court tries to convince readers that it is merely enforcing the terms of the statute, but that is preposterous. Even as understood today, the concept of discrimination because of ‘sex’ is different from discrimination because of ‘sexual orientation’ or ‘gender identity,’” Alito wrote in a dissent that was joined by Thomas.
Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi said:
“Today, the Supreme Court has unequivocally affirmed that all Americans, regardless of who you are or whom you love, are protected from discrimination in the workplace under federal law. This momentous decision is a victory for the LGBTQ community, for our democracy and for our fundamental values of equality and justice for all.
“Yet, the Trump Administration continues to advance an outrageous, hateful anti-LGBTQ agenda that risks the health and well-being of countless LGBTQ Americans and their families. And in too many places, LGBTQ individuals face continued persecution, harassment and violence, particularly trans women of color who face a disproportionately high rate of homelessness, HIV, sexual assault and murder. To finally and fully end LGBTQ discrimination, not just in the workplace, but in every place, last year, House Democrats passed the landmark Equality Act. Now, Leader McConnell must end his partisan obstruction and allow the Senate to vote on this critical legislation.
“As we mark LGBTQ Pride Month and celebrate this great legal victory for freedom and equality, we take great pride in how far we’ve come. Now, we must rededicate ourselves to continue marching toward progress to combat the forces of hatred and bigotry that still undermine our communities and our nation. We will not rest until we have secured a brighter, more just and equal future for the LGBTQ community and all Americans.”
The Supreme Court has ruled that federal law protects LGBTQ workers from discrimination.
CNN legal analyst @JeffreyToobin: SCOTUS "has spoken very clearly in this decision, 6-3, that it is now unlawful… to fire someone simply because they are LGBT." https://t.co/RegFTWyS5m pic.twitter.com/YvfH7K8jRt
— CNN (@CNN) June 15, 2020
“I was born in a very different time and had to go on my own journey for recognizing LGBTQ rights, just like the country itself,” said former CBS newsman Dan Rather. “Today is a great day for the universal truth that all people are created equal.”
The gay CEO of Apple Inc., Tim Cook, tweeted: “Grateful for today’s decision by the Supreme Court. LGBTQ people deserve equal treatment in the workplace and throughout society, and today’s decision further underlines that federal law protects their right to fairness.”
The Trump administration had changed course from the Obama administration, which enthusiastically supported LGBTQ workers against discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
During the Obama years, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission included discrimination against LGBTQ people. The law prohibits discrimination because of sex, but has no specific protection for sexual orientation or gender identity–until this current Supreme Court interpretation.
The outcome is expected to have a big impact for the estimated 8.1 million LGBTQ workers across the country because most states don’t protect them from workplace discrimination. An estimated 11.3 million LGBTQ people live in the U.S., according to the Williams Institute at the UCLA law school.