Okay, you can argue that it is a more accepting time in history than, let’s say 1960, for being LGBTQ and that is true in a way. We are more out than we have ever been, there is more coverage in the media, and more people in positions of power speaking out about who they are. All of this I have said before, but my argument is that it is all a very slippery slope and hinges on the care and fight we continue to give it. Nothing can show that more than the three cases that are coming before the Supreme Court on October 8th. These cases will decide unequivocally how the Federal Government will handle discrimination of LGBTQ people. How far this decision reaches should scare each of us to our very fiber. If the decision goes negative, it will truly set back our rights by easily twenty years. Sure, you can argue that there are state legislation that will grant protections, but that only covers some. For example, stat laws will cover employers with five or more people in an organization. 15 and above typically will fall under federal jurisdiction. If you chose to sue your employer, those laws can affect how the case is heard and how a verdict can be obtained. These three cases can completely change how that works.
Let’s take a look at the three cases that will be heard. Zarda vs Altitude Express, concerns a late sky diving instruction who was fired for being gay. Bostock v. Claytonconcerns a municipal working who was subjected to anti-gay discrimination behavior while working in the city government. These two cases are being tried as one to see if they both fall under Title VII of sex discrimination. Harris Funeral Homes vs. EEOCconcerns an employee that was fired from the funeral home for being openly trans. This case will be tried to see if trans discrimination falls under Title VII for sex discrimination. These are the cases that will be used to decide the legality of discrimination of all LGBTQ people going forward.
So, we all understand, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act expressly “prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin,” and “sex.” At present, federal anti-gay discrimination has fallen under this Title VII under the “sex” aspect. For clarity, this is how that is being used now. if a man is fired for loving another man, then it is similar as to not hiring a woman because she has school aged kids. These are inherent parts of the person’s nature or abilities; they cannot be used as means of discrimination. If a woman was fired at this very moment because her employer felt that the fact, she had children that were in school means she cannot perform the duties of a job, there would be huge lawsuit over the issue. Why should it be any less acceptable to fire someone because of the person they are attracted to?
Where this becomes more terrifying is the scope of what this decision will cover. It is easy to say that it only affect job discrimination, but the outcome of this case will reach much further. It will also cover the discrimination on the basis of sex in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Fair Housing Act. Guess what people, this means we will systematically go back to the era of the 80s and 90s where you could be turned away from an apartment for being LGBTQ or kicked out of your home for being suspected of being LGBTQ. It would also allow schools receiving federal funds to allow or disallow students based on being LGBTQ. We could lose our right to work, live, and get educated, all under one bill. These in turn are steps from allowing discrimination to be justified in any service that receives federal assistance.
We live in a world where there are places in Russia that allows the government to round up individuals, they suspect are LGBTQ and place them into concentration camps for an undetermined amount of time and to be tortured for any information the government thinks is important. These same people are often times killed during the torture and no one held accountable. There are still countries that advocate public killings of suspected LGBTQ people. They are not American, but let’s look at what is going on here. With Trump’s presidency we have seen a rise in hate crimes. Minorities are being targeted under the #MAGA mindset. We are watching our government tell people if they aren’t happy with how the government is being ran, to leave this country and at the same time telling those that are seeking asylum due to how their government runs their country to return home and correct the problem. We also know that Trump has handpicked the majority of sitting judges on the Supreme Court, in hopes to rule in his favor in matters. Maybe it is time that we finally work to correct the problems of our government.
We are often left asking what can we, as the public, do to help in a ruling by the Supreme Court and the answer may seem small. However, your voice it is what is most important. There are currently 206 big businesses that are urging the Supreme Court to rule favorably in these cases, so there is hope. Make sure your representatives know your feelings on this matter. Support the businesses that are pushing for Title VII to continue covering LGBTQ people. Call, send mail, emails, show up at events, and you must make your voice heard. Vote in any election that happens and support candidates that support your causes. While it is left for others to decide, their views are shaped by those under them and by the mindset of business. This government cannot be allowed to continue to strip away our rights, whether we are LGBTQ, women, people of color, or immigrants. We have to shape the world WE want to live in.