A Watershed in US LGBT History
Until recently, the Supreme Court in the United States has ruled in favour of providing protection for LGBT workers against employers. This was a 6-3 decision where the majority upheld that in US federal law, discrimination based on sex should now include sexual orientation and gender identity.
What this means is that employers will be classed as breaking the law, i.e. breaking US civil rights laws, should they unfairly dismiss workers on the grounds that they are gay, bisexual, or transgender. This is a landmark ruling in the history of US law as well as for the LGBT community.
The argument of the lawyers in favour of employers campaigned Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 1964 was not intended to give rise to cases surrounding issues of gender identity and sexual orientation. This argument was backed by the Trump administration.
“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…” Judge Neil Gorsuch.
However, even though Judge Gorsuch is a nominated judge by President Donald Trump, he overruled this argument with a differing opinion that discrimination based on sex includes the above-mentioned issues.
Under Obama’s presidency, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforced the prohibition of employers discriminating against employees based on sex to encompass sexual orientation and gender identity. Yet when Trump rose to power, the Republicans who backed Trump sought to reel back such provisions and other protections such as in healthcare.
Ultimately, this signifies a more conservative stance and perhaps a large degree of dissuasion from the Trump administration. Although only just a few days earlier Trump’s administration proclaimed the future removal of transgender health-insurance protections, this aggressive policy against the LGBT community did not hinder the enforcement of future legal protections for these individuals.
What can be seen is that the Supreme Court and the Trump administration have asserted their standpoints on transgender rights. This political shoot-out perhaps signifies a sense of foreboding for the Trump administration in the next US election.
Dignity for the LGBT Community:
Whilst the US is still in the long process of enhancing gay rights, this is the first time the highest Court in the US has ever spoken out about legal protections for LGBT individuals. The LGBT Community are now rejoicing at the end of ‘keeping in the closet’ in the workplace.
“Especially at a time when the Trump administration is rolling back the rights of transgender people and anti-transgender violence continues to plague our nation, this decision is a step towards affirming the dignity of transgender people and all LGBTQ people.” Sarah Kate Ellis, President of GLAAD.
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