Supreme Court Rules That Federal Law Barring Sex Discrimination in Employment Applies to LGBTQ Individuals
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The Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision on Monday that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act applies to LGBTQ individuals, delivering a striking blow to the Trump administration, which argued it did not encompass such protections.
Title VII protects employees from facing discrimination from their employer on the basis of their race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.
In writing the majority opinion in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, the Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the decision to protect employees LGBTQ employees stems from Title VII's existing protections on sex.
"The answer is clear," he wrote in the majority opinion.
He continued: "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.
Chief Justice John Roberts — a Bush-appointed conservative — joined with the majority decision, along with the court's four liberals: Justices Elena Kagan, Sonya Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer.
Conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and the Trump-appointed Brett Kavanaugh wrote dissenting opinions.
The Supreme Court webpage for the ruling went down immediately after it was published, rendering many people unable to access it.
The ruling centered on three separate cases where a longtime employee had been fired shortly after they came out as homosexual or transgender in their workplace. Gerald Bostock was as a child-welfare advocate for a decade in Clayton County, Georgia, and was fired over conduct "unbecoming" of a county employee after he joined a gay recreational softball team.
Donald Zarda, a skydiving instructor in New York, was fired days after he came out as gay. Aimee Stephens, who worked at a funeral home in Michigan, was fired after she began to present as female at work after being hired and working there when she presented as male. Stephens died in May. Zarda died in 2014.
The Monday decision serves as a blow to the Trump administration, which has argued since 2017 that the existing statute did not protect individuals from employment discrimination based on their identifying as homosexual or transgender.
The landmark decision also marks the biggest win for the LGBT community since the court ruled in 2015 in a 5-4 decision that the Fourteenth Amendment required all states to grant and recognize same-sex marriages.