Happy Pride Month! Last week, the United States Supreme Court made a landmark ruling on LGBTQ rights. In a 6-3 decision, the justices declared it unconstitutional for businesses to fire employees based on their gender identity or sexual orientation, citing that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects gay and transgender people from employment discrimination “on the basis of sex.” This is an incredibly monumental moment in the fight for LGBTQ rights. As Them reports, this ruling has a far wider reach than the 2015 Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality – “it is as if Congress passed the Civil Rights Act for Queers on June 15, 2020.”
The decision came after three cases were brought to the court. One involved a skydiving instructor in New York who was fired after revealing he was gay. The second case was in Georgia, where a child welfare coordinator was fired after joining a gay recreational softball league. The third case involved a Michigan funeral home director who came out as transgender and was fired from the job she had for six years. As of June 15th, this type of employment prejudice is now unconstitutional across the nation.
Beyond the workplace, LGBTQ people continue to face major discrimination. 2020 has already seen the murders of 15 transgender or gender non-conforming people. Black transgender women are the majority of those killed, as they shoulder a disproportionate burden of harassment and violence. Recently, the Trump administration rolled back transgender nondiscrimination protections in the Affordable Care Act. In many states, it is still legal to deny queer people the ability to rent a home based on their identity.
However, this new ruling brings hope to the LGBTQ community. As LGBTQ history scholar George Chauncey told the New York Times, “From a historical perspective, this ruling is a tremendous advance for LGBTQ people. In the twentieth century, countless queer people lost their jobs in factories, government agencies, and corporate offices when their employer learned they were gay.” This Supreme Court ruling will make it much more difficult to defend discrimination against LGBTQ people in the courtroom, and it will likely open more doors to challenging all types of discrimination that queer people face.
Take Action! The fight for equality is important to continue throughout Pride Month and beyond. Check out the Human Rights Campaign’s webpage on how to be a supportive ally of the LGBTQ community, and visit this website for an extensive list of organizations you can support to protect Black transgender lives.