Supreme Court rules it illegal to discriminate against LGBTQ members in the workplace
Monday morning LGBTQ community sees victory in SCOTUS 6-3 vote
In a historic 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled LGBTQ people are protected by federal law from job discrimination. This decision considers Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlaws discrimination in the workplace based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, to also prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
This decision is a victory for the LGBTQ community, especially considering the rule comes from a majority conservative court. In fact, Trump nominated Justice Neil Gorsuch authored the opinion of the court.
"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," Gorsuch wrote. "Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids."
"The statute's message for our cases is equally simple and momentous: An individual's homosexuality or transgender status is not relevant to employment decisions. That's because it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex," the opinion reads.
Gorsuch was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and the court's four liberal justices, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan in voting in the majority.
Conservative Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas dissented.
"The Court tries to convince readers that it is merely enforcing the terms of the statute, but that is preposterous," Alito wrote in the dissent. "Even as understood today, the concept of discrimination because of 'sex' is different from discrimination because of 'sexual orientation' or 'gender identity.'"
Prior to Monday, nearly half of the estimated 8.1 million LGBTQ-identifying workers lived in one of the 21 states without statures prohibiting LGBTQ discrimination in employment.
The Supreme Court's overall ruling came in separate cases, one of which was Aimee Stephens's. Stephens was the first transgender individual whose civil rights case was heard by the Supreme Court, according to the American Civil Liberties Union who represented Stephens.
After coming out as transgender to her colleagues in 2013, she was fired as the director of a funeral home. Unfortunately, Stephens died last month at the age of 59, before she could hear the decision.
"I am grateful for this victory to honor the legacy of Aimee, and to ensure people are treated fairly regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity," Stephen's wife, Donna Stephens, said in a statement.
"One thing to remember today is that neither Aimee nor Don lived to see the outcome of their case," the ACLU tweeted. "As is often the case, our clients fought relentlessly for the rights of all, for generations to come, not knowing whether they may personally reap the benefits of that work. We deserve to enjoy the full rights and liberties of ALL, to live authentically and free from harassment and discrimination for who you are or who you love, while you're here."