Why the Supreme Court Ruling That Employers Can’t Fire People for Being LGBT Is a Welcome Surprise
Under Donald Trump, the federal government has continuously worked to undermine all forms of legal protection for LGBT people. Most recently, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it would reverse the protection of health care in the Obama era, and claimed that the denial of service to gays and transgender people is no longer seen as gender discrimination.
Now news from the Supreme Court on Monday is likely to cause a number of headaches for the Trump administration. In a shocking 6-3 ruling, the judges ruled that dismissing someone based on their sexuality or gender identity was unconstitutional under Title VII - part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects, among other things, against gender-based discrimination in the workplace. The verdict focuses on three cases in which two gay men and a transgender woman were released because of their identity.
As NBC's Pete Williams put it: "Just a few minutes ago, it was possible to get married on Sunday and be legally fired on Monday, but no more."
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Neil Gorsuch, who was named Trump's successor to Antonin Scalia, wrote for the majority: "An employer who fires a person because of homosexuality or transgender dismisses that person because of characteristics or acts that they do not question among members of the opposite sex Gender plays a necessary and undeniable role in deciding exactly what Title VII prohibits. "It appears to have angered and surprised conservative activists that Gorsuch, who is taking a seat, was stolen from Obama candidate Merrick Garland , on the Liberal side of the court - Carrie Severino of the Right Judicial Crisis Network wrote: "Justice Scalia would be disappointed that his successor botched textualism so much today to appeal to college campuses and newsrooms. This was not an assessment, it was legislation - a brute-force attack on our constitutional system. "
The decision was unexpected for many reasons. As the court leans more and more to the right, it has taken stricter and more punitive positions against labor rights in general, and the conservative judges at best have a mixed record of LGBT rights. It was also the first time since Anthony Kennedy's resignation that the court had weighed gay rights.
Not surprisingly, judges Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas did not believe that LGBT people were legally protected while Kavanaugh wrote the dissent.
Activists and civil rights lawyers were equally stunned by the decision, and many expressed their shock on social media. Chase Strangio of the American Civil Liberties Union, who participated in the argument, responded in real time to Twitter and went from "Did we win ????" to "WE DAMN WIN !?" to "I really think this is a full win. We won fully." Strangio also believes that this decision is the basis for reversing Health and Human Services' recent decision to allow discrimination against LGBT people.
The fact that there is so much shock that the Court has made a humane decision says a lot about where its priorities are most of the time. Joe Dunman, one of the equality lawyers, wrote: "Very excited about the SCOTUS ruling on Title VII, but how surprised everyone is that the court came to the obvious conclusion really says something. "
Originally released on GQ
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