This morning, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that “In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee’s sex when deciding to fire that employee. We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.” Advocacy organizations around the country are celebrating what is a huge step forward for LGBTQ+ rights.
“Finally. Today, the law, justice and fairness are on our side. Our nation’s highest court confirmed what Lambda Legal has argued for years, that discrimination against LGBTQ workers is illegal,” said Kevin Jennings, CEO of Lambda Legal. “We have a long way to go in securing the full and undeniable civil rights of LGBTQ people, especially those in our community who are Black, Indigenous and people of color for whom their sexual orientation or gender identity is only one of many barriers to equal opportunity in this country. But today’s victory is a necessary step forward on the journey toward equal justice for all without caveats or qualifications.”
Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, said, today: “Today is a historic day: The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized the fundamental equality of LGBTQ Americans, including the more than 5 million who live in Southern states. The ruling ensures a blanket of employment protections for LGBTQ people rather than the inadequate patchwork that has all but stopped at the borders of Southern states. For LGBTQ Southerners, the decision shows yet again that that no one should face discrimination because of who they are or who they love.’
“The decision comes,” Beach-Ferrara continued, “at a time when millions of Americans are facing unemployment or reduced employment because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As LGBTQ people venture back into the job market, we’re grateful for this measure of relief: The legal protection that employers can no longer use anti-LGBTQ bias as a weapon in the workplace.”
“At a time when our fundamental values as a country are under attack, this decision affirms the basic belief that civil rights belong to us all. We commend the Supreme Court’s decision to affirm that LGBTQ people are, and should be, protected from workplace discrimination under federal law. The Leadership Conference coordinated the legislative campaign to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and we are proud to see that historic law applied correctly,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
“We know, however, that our fight to protect LGBTQ people must go on,” Gupta continued. “There are still numerous gaps in our nation’s anti-discrimination laws, and Congress must act now to pass full federal anti-discrimination protection laws, like the Equality Act, for all people.”
Jennings of Lambda Legal also points to the continuing need for the Equality Act to pass: “We intend to build on the momentum created by today’s decision to push for the comprehensive federal protections contained in the Equality Act, passed by the House of Representatives more than one year ago. The Equality Act solidifies the workplace protections recognized by the Court today and, critically, it also updates and expands protections in the marketplace and public services not only on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, but also on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin and religion in the workplace, the marketplace, and beyond.”
Beach-Ferrara likewise points to the continuing need for work, particularly around racial justice. “While we’re grateful for this step forward, we all must remain committed to this month’s deepened and long overdue conversation around racial injustice. We lift up the reality that Southerners with multiple marginalized identities face multiple layers of oppression. Black LGBTQ Southerners, for example, not only confront employment discrimination but also police brutality, anti-Black racism, and disproportionate rates of living with HIV. As we celebrate today’s ruling, we must continue to push for dignity, respect, and justice for all LGBTQ people in every sphere of life.”
Cover Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash