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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Supreme Court rules LGBTQ workers are protected from job discrimination

    In landmark case, Supreme Court rules LGBTQ workers are protected from job discrimination

    The decision said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate because of a person's sex, also covers sexual orientation and transgender status.

    June 15, 2020, 7:05 AM PDT / Updated June 15, 2020, 8:33 AM PDT
    By Pete Williams

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that existing federal law forbids job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status, a major victory for advocates of gay rights and for the nascent transgender rights movement — and a surprising one from an increasingly conservative court.


    By a vote of 6-3, the court said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate because of a person's sex, among other factors, also covers sexual orientation and transgender status. It upheld rulings from lower courts that said sexual orientation discrimination was a form of sex discrimination.


    Equally surprising was that the decision was written by President Donald Trump's first Supreme Court appointee, Neil Gorsuch, who was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and the court's four more liberal members to form a majority.

    "An employer who fired 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," Gorsuch wrote for the court. "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," he wrote, adding, "But the limits of the drafters' imagination supply no reason to ignore the law's demands."


    "Only the written word is the law, and all persons are entitled to its benefit," he wrote.


    Across the nation, 21 states have their own laws prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Seven more provide that protection only to public employees. Those laws remain in force, but Monday's ruling means federal law now provides similar protection for LGBTQ employees in the rest of the country.


    Gay and transgender rights groups considered the case a highly significant one, even more important than the fight to get the right to marry, because nearly every LGBTQ adult has or needs a job. They conceded that sexual orientation was not on the minds of anyone in Congress when the civil rights law was passed. But they said when an employer fires a male employee for dating men, but not a female employee who dates men, that violates the law.


    Gay rights advocates celebrated the ruling. “The Supreme Court’s clarification that it’s unlawful to fire people because they’re LGBTQ is the result of decades of advocates fighting for our rights," said James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project. "The court has caught up to the majority of our country, which already knows that discriminating against LGBTQ people is both unfair and against the law.”


    The ruling was a victory for Gerald Bostock, who was fired from a county job in Georgia after he joined a gay softball team, and the relatives of Donald Zarda, a skydiving instructor who was fired after he told a female client not to worry about being strapped tightly to him during a jump, because he was "100 percent gay." Zarda died before the case reached the Supreme Court.

    The transgender case involved Aimee Stephens, who was dismissed from her job at a Michigan funeral home two weeks after she told the company was transgender. She said her boss explained to her she was fired because she failed to follow the dress code.

    "He said, this is not going to work," Stephens said. "And he handed me a letter firing me and offering me what I took to be hush money to keep my mouth shut."


    Stephens did not live to see the case decided
    . She died May 12 while undergoing hospice care for kidney disease, but her surviving spouse carried on the legal fight.


    The ACLU told the court hers was a clear case of sex discrimination, because if she had been assigned female sex at birth she would not have been fired for wanting to come to work dressed as a woman.

    Instead Stephens was assigned male sex and was fired because she failed to conform to the sex stereotypes of her employer, it argued.


    The funeral home said treating men and women equally does not require employers to treat men as women.


    "It is not sex discrimination for an employer to apply a sex-specific dress code or provide sex-specific changing and restroom facilities based on biological sex rather than one's internal sense of gender," the company told the court, adding that its actions did not disfavor one sex compared to the other.


    The Trump administration had urged the court to rule that Title VII does not cover cases like these, in a reversal from the position the government took during the Obama administration.


    "The ordinary meaning of 'sex' is biologically make or female; it does not include sexual orientation," the Justice Department said. "An employer who discriminates against employees in same-sex relationships thus does not violate Title VII as long as it treats men in same-sex relationships the same as women in same-sex relationships."

    https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/sup...sbian-n1231018
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    GOP backs Gorsuch's LGBTQ decision after conservative blowback

    “It’s important that we recognize that all Americans have equal rights under our Constitution,” Sen. Deb Fischer said.



    Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion for a historic ruling that established new protections for LGBTQ people in the workplace. | J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

    By BURGESS EVERETT and MARIANNE LEVINE

    06/15/2020 07:21 PM EDT

    Conservatives are seething over Justice Neil Gorsuch’s opinion that cemented new protections for LGBTQ people. The Senate Republicans who confirmed him? Not so much.

    Seven years ago, just nine Senate Republicans supported a bill codifying workplace protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. And after it passed the Senate, the GOP-controlled House never took it up.

    But on Monday, the Republican Party seemed generally supportive of both the substance and process by which the Supreme Court extended Civil Rights Act protections to gay, lesbian and transgender workers. President Donald Trump declined to trash the decision, calling it “powerful” — and his party largely agreed with the Supreme Court’s surprising ruling.


    “It’s important that we recognize that all Americans have equal rights under our Constitution,” Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) said. “I’m fine with it.”

    Plus, the decision could take from Congress a divisive social issue — five months before the 2020 elections. Congress has repeatedly failed to address the issue.


    The Democratic Senate’s 2013 passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act was the last serious effort in the Senate at legislating on LGBTQ issues and just four GOP senators that supported that bill remain in office. The Republican Senate has shied away from taking up the matter, a reflection of divisions in the GOP over how — or whether to — address the issue.


    “It’s the law of the land. And it probably makes uniform what a lot of states have already done. And probably negates Congress’s necessity for acting,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who ran the Senate Judiciary Committee during Gorsuch's confirmation. He said he was not disappointed by Gorsuch’s decision. Besides Gorsuch, Chief Justice John Roberts also joined the court’s Democrat-appointed justices in the 6-3 ruling.


    But many conservatives in the Republican coalition were furious about Gorsuch’s opinion, which came just two days after Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) lost his renomination bid in part because he presided over a same-sex wedding.

    Carrie Severino, president of the conservative legal advocacy group Judicial Crisis Network, said that “Justice Scalia would be disappointed that his successor has bungled textualism so badly today for the sake of appealing to college campuses and editorial boards.” The group spent millions to confirm Gorsuch and block the appointment of Merrick Garland in 2016.


    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) echoed her remarks.
    “This judicial rewriting of our laws short-circuited the legislative process and the authority of the electorate,” he said. “Six un-elected and unaccountable judges instead took it upon themselves to act as legislators, and that undermines our democratic process.”

    And the president of the evangelical activist group Family Research Council,Tony Perkins, said the court’s effort “to rewrite the Civil Rights Act to add gender identity and sexual orientation as protected classes poses a grave threat to religious liberty.”

    Sean Davis, a writer for the Federalist, said conservatives need to "start picking individuals who will vote correctly.”


    But that’s not how most Senate Republicans see it.

    They not only defended Gorsuch but also said justices shouldn’t be expected to automatically rule one way or the other.


    While most Democrats dismissed Gorsuch’s claims of judicial independence during his 2017 confirmation, Republicans said his leadership on the LGBTQ issue confirms that Gorsuch is his own judge.


    “It demonstrated Gorsuch’s independence,” Senate Majority Whip John Thune said. “The country’s obviously changed a lot on that issue. And I assume that he looked at the facts and the law and that’s the conclusion he came to. And that’s what, when we nominated him and confirmed him, we wanted him to.”

    Even those that disagreed with the court’s decision took far more issue with the process than the substance. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said no one should lose their job on the basis of sexual orientation but that he wished the “decision would have been reached by Congress rather than the court.”


    “The court is legislating what they think is good policy. And that, to me though, that's really not their role. I mean I don't particularly care about their views on policy,” said Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a former Supreme Court clerk. “The right answer is ‘over to Congress’ to do something about it.”


    Still, the Supreme Court thrusting difficult issues on Congress isn’t always successful either. In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down key parts of the Voting Rights Act, asking Congress to write a new law if lawmakers believed voting rights were still an issue. Congress has not addressed it.


    Just like the court’s same-sex marriage decision in 2015, the decision on gay and transgender rights could be the last word on an issue that the federal legislature has avoided. And the finality of the Supreme Court’s view relieved the handful of longtime GOP proponents of ending discrimination of LGBTQ people via legislation.

    “It may change some of the dynamics around here,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said. “Now there’s a Supreme Court case [with] the Civil Rights Act applying to some of the discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. So it’s a big deal.”

    https://www.politico.com/news/2020/0...blicans-321096
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