Civil Rights Win Again
Updated: Nov 13, 2020
Chalk up another victory for the LGBTQ community.
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled employers cannot fire gay or transgender individuals solely based on their sexuality, coming on the heels of the court’s same-sex marriage ruling five years ago.
Thanks to today’s decision, the last bastion of legally protected employment discrimination has been swept away. Now, nobody in this country can be fired based solely on their race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.
In the long history of America, our society always comes around to the right side of expanding, not limiting, civil rights. This is no exception. Furthermore, what is particularly noteworthy, is who supported the majority in the 6-3 decision.
Two staunch conservatives, Chief Justice John Roberts and recent court addition Neil Gorsuch, swung the decision in favor of the LGBTQ community.
The United States has come a long way in a very short time on LGBTQ rights and protections. It was just 16 years ago when George W. Bush called for a constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage in one of his State of the Union addresses. Even Barack Obama thought it was political suicide to support such a supposedly radical idea in the run-up to the 2008 presidential election.
Now, right-thinking Americans have in large numbers turned in favor of civil rights, as we always do. It usually takes a while, sometimes a long while, but equal rights under the law always wins in this country.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the basis for Monday’s ruling, came as a result of the fight for American-Americans’ equality. We are seeing that battle continue today, as millions have taken to the streets over the past three weeks to confront ongoing racial injustice.
Public opinion has swung strongly toward equality and justice in both racial and sexual-orientation matters, just like it always does. Even Roberts, who wrote the dissenting opinion in the Obergefell decision that legalized same-sex marriage, seems to have come around just five years later.
Nobody should ever lose employment, or not be hired, because of their sexuality. It makes no sense. If an employee is good at their job, and they are fired for being gay or transgender, that employer is hurting his or her own business. It’s almost as if the Supreme Court’s ruling protects bigots from themselves.
It is disturbing that three of the court’s conservatives -- Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh -- believe it should still be legal for employers to fire otherwise top performing gays and lesbians, and their argument -- that judges shouldn’t be legislating from the bench -- is tremendously weak.
But, thankfully, Roberts and Gorsuch had the spine and wherewithal to do the right thing.
Gorsuch, a Donald Trump appointee, wrote for the majority that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects the LGBTQ community, because that’s what the law says, albeit not explicitly. The Civil Rights Act bans discrimination based on sex, and you can’t have sexual orientation without sex. It is irrelevant whether the lawmakers who wrote the law meant it that way, he said.
“Only the written word is law, and all persons are entitled to its benefit,” Gorsuch wrote.