Photo by Zackary Drucker, The Gender Spectrum Collection
Today, the United States Supreme Court ruled in three separate cases that LGBTQ+ people are protected from employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
One of the cases, Harris Funeral Homes v. Stephens, addresses gender identity while the remaining two cases — Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia and Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda — address sexual orientation. Writing the majority opinion for the Court, which handed down a 6-3 ruling, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that “an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies [Title VII].”
AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC) and Pride Action Tank (PAT) are elated that the Court agrees that every American — no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity — should be able to work without fear of being fired for who they are.
“This landmark ruling is an enormous victory for members of LGBTQ+ communities across Illinois and the nation,” says Timothy Jackson, AFC’s Director of Government Relations. “To be completely clear, discrimination based on someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other protected status should NEVER see the light of day. Thanks to today’s decision, millions of LGBTQ+ Americans will be able to live their best lives without fear of stigma, prejudice and intolerance. AFC would also like to extend our condolences to the family of Aimee Stephens — the plaintiff in the Harris case — who passed away in May 2020.”
“No government should be in the business of licensing discrimination and subjecting its citizens to stigma and fear,” says Kim L. Hunt, Executive Director of Pride Action Tank. “Today’s decision shows that the U.S. Supreme Court decided to choose fairness over fear, and decency over discrimination. Although today’s decision is certainly a great first step, PAT and AFC call on the U.S. Senate to pass the Equality Act, a bill already passed in the U.S. House. The Equality Act is a landmark bill that would expand the list of protected classes in the Civil Rights Act to include the LGBTQ community. And, even as we acknowledge the promise that the Equality Act holds, as a community, we cannot turn away from ongoing battles faced by our transgender and Black and Latinx kin.”