WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that LGBTQ workers are protected by civil rights laws in a decision announced on Monday.
The case was one of two major LGBTQ issues up before the high court this term.
The Associated Press reported that the court decided in a 6-3 vote that a key provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 known as Title VII that bars job discrimination because of sex, among other reasons, encompasses bias against LGBTQ workers.
“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.
Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas dissented, according to the AP.
“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.
The AP reported that the case was the first since the retirement of Anthony Kennedy, who had been a swing vote in other LGBTQ cases, and the appointment of the conservative Kavanaugh.
The Trump administration had filed briefs last year opposing LGBTQ protections under Title VII. The administration had also pushed for the U.S. Department on Labor to change its position on protecting LGBTQ workers.
“Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that LGBTQ people across America are protected by the federal employment non-discrimination law is significant and encouraging,” Equality Illinois said in a statement on their Facebook page. “Through the Illinois Human Rights Act, Illinois has had workplace non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people since 2006. We are pleased such protections apply to all LGBTQ Illinoisans regardless of where they may work. Make no mistake: our work as a state and as a country is not done.”
“I know that it has happened many times before, but it is still a shock when conservative Supreme Court Justices cross over and join a Progressive decision,” said Buff Carmichael, former publisher of the Prairie Flame. “Today’s ruling clarifying that Title VII does, in fact, protect LGBTQ workers from discrimination is a breath of fresh air and gives me hope that the future may not be as dim as I feared.”
“Today’s decision is a crucial victory for LGBTQ people – a group that continues to face widespread discrimination in the workplace and in many other aspects of our lives,” said John Knight, LGBTQ & HIV advocacy project director for the ACLU of Illinois. “We owe a huge debt for this win to the Black and Brown transgender women who been leading the fight against discrimination, as well as police brutality, for more than a half century. Our debt extends as well to the courage and unflagging determination of Aimee Stephens and Don Zarda. I only wish that Aimee and Don were here to see the victory for themselves.”
“At this most challenging time for our community, the country and the world, it is heartening to see the Court decision bolstering fairness and equality in this country by affirming that LGBTQ+ people are protected from employment discrimination under federal law,” said Rea Carey, Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force. “Every person celebrating this ruling has decades of work by Black and Brown trans members of our community, in particular, to thank for the ability to work free from discrimination. And while this is a watershed moment for fairness and equality, our struggle for LGBTQ liberation, we still have work to do.”
“This is a landmark victory for LGBTQ equality,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David. “No one should be denied a job or fired simply because of who they are or whom they love.”
We will update this post throughout the day.