During this particular Pride Month — with the excitement at a lower pitch due to the absence of a parade and other outdoor events — the Supreme Court, of all institutions, lit up the LGBTQ world. The court ruled on June 15 that workers cannot be fired for being gay or transgender.
The historic 6-3 decision had the added irony that it was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was appointed by President Donald Trump.
“An individual’s homosexuality or transgender status is not relevant to employment decisions,” Gorsuch wrote. “That’s because it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.”
In D.C., such protections have been in place for years, but there was no federal protection stating that LGBTQ employees could not be fired because of their orientation. Plaintiffs argued that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of “sex,” applies to sexual orientation and gender identity.
“This has been a long seven years, as you know,” Gerald Bostock, one of the plaintiffs, said in an interview. “I went into shock. My partner and I embraced. I was thinking this has to be good, this has to be good … I’ve just been on a high ever since.”
“This is a landmark victory for LGBTQ equality,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David. “For the past two decades, federal courts have determined that discrimination on the basis of LGBTQ status is unlawful discrimination under federal law. Today’s historic ruling by the Supreme Court affirms that view, but there is still work left to be done. In many aspects of the public square, LGBTQ people still lack non-discrimination protections, which is why it is crucial that Congress pass the Equality Act to address the significant gaps in federal civil rights laws and improve protections for everyone.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden said the court’s ruling “confirmed the simple but profoundly American idea that every human being should be treated with respect and dignity.” Even President Trump said of the decision: “They’ve ruled, and we live with their decision.” We’d say there’s plenty to cheer about, even without a parade.