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SCOTUS Rules 6 -3, Civil Rights Act Protects Transgender and Gay Employees from Discrimination

On Friday, the Trump Administration eliminated a regulation prohibiting discrimination in health care against patients who are transgender.

Yesterday, in solidarity with continuing call for change and social justice, more than 15K people gathered in Brooklyn for a Black Trans Lives Matter Protest.

Tiffany Munroe waving a Pride flag during a rally to call attention to violence against transgender people of color in Brooklyn on Sunday.Credit…Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times

Today, the Supreme Court of the United State made the most historic ruling for LGBT+ equality since it declared same sex marriages legal in all fifty states five years ago.  In a 6 – 3 ruling the Justices decided under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, lesbian gay, bisexual and transgender Americans are protected from workplace discrimination.

The significance of this landmark ruling cannot be overstated.  Simply put LGBT+ people cannot be discriminated against or fired simply because of who they are who they love.

But in a greater context the significance of this ruling for equality is breathtaking.

It stems from the Civil Rights Act, a pinnacle achievement of the Black Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, which lead the way for the Gay Rights Movement to come. As Dr. King said,

“All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be…”

The case was brought by Aimee Stephens a transgender woman who requested to begin dressing as woman at the funeral home where she worked and was fired by her Christian boss in 2013.  She never set out to be a heroine in our Community, but as so many transgender people have, she has won enormous battles for us.  Ms. Stephens died last month at the age of 59.

Aimee Stephens, right, is survived by her wife Donna Stephens photo via CNN

SCOTUS’s 6 – 3 “Workplace Equality” ruling was written not by one of the liberal Justices but a conservative Justice, and not just any conservative, a Trump appointee and not just any Trump appointee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, the appointee Mitch McConnell stole from Barack Obama.  Also siding with the majority is Chief Justice, John Roberts, a George W. Bush appointee, the president who wanted a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage.  Who can tell what this may say about the conservative members of the Court as a whole, but in these troubled times it appears some are coming to their senses and using common sense.

“For all men being originally equals…” – Thomas Paine, Common Sense

An except from the SCOTUS ruling

Justice Neil M. Gorsuch wrote the majority opinionSCOTUSblog reports. He was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

“Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender,” Gorsuch wrote. “The answer is clear. 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.

“Those who adopted the Civil Rights Act might not have anticipated their work would lead to this particular result. Likely, they weren’t thinking about many of the act’s consequences that have become apparent over the years, including its prohibition against discrimination on the basis of motherhood or its ban on the sexual harassment of male employees. But the limits of the drafters’ imagination supply no reason to ignore the law’s demands.”


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(Main photo: video still via PBS)

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