At a time of national demonstrations in support of Black lives and against systemic racism and during a national health crisis, it is heartening to receive good news from the U.S. Supreme Court. The Title VII decision, announced on June 15, affirms that all Americans should be treated equally under the law. The Supreme Court ruled that employers do not have a right to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people in the workplace. This historic decision says that LGBTQ+ people are, and should be, protected from discrimination under federal law. And while this is welcome news, the reality is that we still have much to do to achieve cultural change.
More than 50 years ago, Black and Brown trans women fought back against police brutality and discrimination that too many LGBTQ people still face. We hope this decisive vote in favor of nondiscrimination indicates a significant shift toward acceptance and permanent legal protections in education, housing, credit and health care — areas where too many LGBTQ people, particularly Black and Brown LGBTQ, still face discrimination.
We mourn the fact that neither Aimee Stephens nor Don Zarda lived to see this important victory that their struggles paved the way for, both were the employees who were fired because of their identities and died before the case was decided. One of Aimee’s last wishes was to see the fight to end discrimination continue and we thank her for being a trailblazer and hero.
“This decision is historic victory for legal equality across the nation; however, even in California where we have had employment protections for some time, we know that discrimination and harassment continue,” said David Heitstuman, CEO of the Sacramento LGBT Community Center. “Today’s decision stands in stark contrast to the Trump Administration’s actions. Just last week, the Department of Health and Human Services instituted a rule that seeks to roll back anti-discrimination protections in the Affordable Care Act for LGBTQ people in the midst of a public health crisis.” Additionally, there are still critical gaps in our federal non-discrimination laws. While LGBTQ people are now federally protected from discrimination at work, it will still be legal in many states:
- For stores, restaurants and hotels to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
- For federally funded programs, including hospitals, colleges, and adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
- To discriminate against transgender people in restrooms and gyms.
- To discriminate against women in public accommodations and federally funded programs
- To discriminate against just about anyone in a wide range of public accommodations ranging from retail stores to transportation services.
This ruling is a win for many in our community, we need Congress to act in alignment with the Court and most Americans by passing the Equality Act to ensure non-discrimination protections across all areas of life. At the Center, we envision a world where LGBTQ people are not only safe and welcome at work, in school, and at their doctor’s office, but able to thrive. Our work doesn’t end now and we need your help.
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