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Opposing Illinois, Missouri discrimination laws at center of LGBTQ discrimination lawsuit

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ST. LOUIS — A man who married his husband in Illinois but then was fired for it in Missouri has his lawsuit go to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

Bloomberg Law reported that Mark Horton of Illinois is suing Midwest Geriatric Management in Missouri for rescinding a job offer when they found out he was gay. Illinois law bars anti-LGBTQ discrimination. Missouri law doesn’t.

From Bloomberg Law:

Horton’s case, which will be argued April 17 before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, will be the latest to examine where lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals can bring such claims under federal law, an issue that has divided appeals courts, federal agencies, and a broad swath of interest groups. Illinois falls in an area where the Seventh Circuit in Chicago became the first appeals court to rule sexual orientation should be protected under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Second Circuit in New York later followed suit, but other appeals courts have reached the opposite conclusion.

In the Eighth Circuit, those federal protections aren’t guaranteed.

“Illinois has one interpretation and Missouri has another. This isn’t theoretical. A whole different set of laws applied to him in Missouri compared to Illinois,” said Todd Anten, New York partner with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. “That’s where we need to address this question on a uniform level. People aren’t neat. Jobs and lives cross borders.”

The U.S. Supreme Court is separately pondering whether it will take up pending cases that address sexual orientation bias in Altitude Express v. Zarda and Bostock v. Clayton County, GA. Another case, R.G. and G.R. Harris Funeral v. EEOC, is also pending and raises similar questions over whether gender identity should be protected.

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