The Supreme Court’s case on LGBT discrimination shouldn’t be a close call


At the federal level and in 26 states, there is now no legal protection against employment discrimination for LGBTQ+ people.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump's first Supreme Court appointee, said there are strong arguments favouring the LGBT workers.

That said, nothing the court does or declines to do affects Congress's responsibility.

The Harris case, from MI and the 6th Circuit, involves a funeral director, Aimee Stephens, who worked for years identifying as a man because that was the gender assigned to her on her birth certificate. Essentially, if you can not be fired based on your sex (legally, male or female), then you can not be fired if/when an employer realizes you are attracted to or dating someone of the same-sex.

The company maintained he was sacked because he shared personal information with a client, not because he was gay, but a court in NY ruled in Mr Zarda's favour.

First up to be heard today are three consolidated cases related to worker protections for homosexuals and "transgender" individuals.

The Supreme Court's decision in these cases could effectively decide whether to solidify or take away non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people under federal civil rights laws - which prohibit sex discrimination in contexts ranging from employment to housing, healthcare, and education.

The Supreme Court opened its new session on Monday.

Cole said he was "not asking you to apply any meaning of sex other than the one that everybody agrees on as of 1964". Justice Clarence Thomas, who returned to the bench Tuesday after staying home sick the day before, said nothing, as is his custom.

In their argument for or against this discrimination, most employers and government officials tend to cite the Title VII law put in place in 1964. "If you do not match what your employer thinks makes somebody a man or makes somebody a woman, then your rights are at risk today".

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Alito replied, "Well, I'm not familiar with that". Another plaintiff, former funeral director Aimee Stephens, was sacked when she revealed to her boss that she would begin dressing as a woman.

"I was discriminated against in my job, I was sacked, I became homeless, I had to engage in survival sex work".

Basic Rights Oregon (BRO) was one of the key advocacy groups behind the passage of the Oregon Equality Act, which Executive Director Nancy Haque said, "ensures dignity and respect, no matter who we are or who we love", at a press conference Tuesday morning. And, he said, "it is ultimately the provisions of our laws, rather than the principal concerns of our legislators by which we are governed". Donald Zarda says he was sacked from his job as a skydiving instructor for being gay and also, relatedly, not fitting the "macho" stereotype the company expected from its employees.

He will tell the justices that adding definitions to the word "sex" would set a unsafe precedent. However, this case is the first major gay rights issue to cross the bench since the justices chose to legalize same-sex marriage in 2015.

"I don't think Justice Kavanaugh is going to share that view, and I don't think other conservatives share that view", he adds.

"If it's sex discrimination to say, 'You can't work for us if you are a woman and you have children at home, it's also sex discrimination to say you can't work for us because you're a woman and you have a wife at home, ' " says Karlan.

A 2018 report by the organization and the Washington-based National LGBTQ Workers Center estimated that about 4.5% of the USA population identifies as LGBTQ, for an estimated 11 million people.

The Trump administration has changed course from the Obama administration and now supports the employers in arguing that the civil rights law's Title 7 does not prohibit discrimination because of sexual orientation or transgender status. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the transgender discrimination case, is here. An even larger set of federal appeals courts have ruled that discrimination based on gender identity is a form of sex discrimination.

The Trump Justice Department has argued that Title VII never meant to protect LGBTQ people. But the measure is stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. The court system says he was sacked because he mismanaged funds.