Supreme Court Rules Federal Law Protects LGBTQ Workers from Discrimination.

Jun 2020

Pride 2020

Supreme Court Says: “LGBTQ Rights!”

The Supreme Court today ruled federal law forbids employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

In other words: As of this morning, it is illegal in every single state across the US to fire someone, refuse to hire someone, or deny a promotion to someone because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ) under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court is a monumental victory for LGBTQ people across the United States. Discrimination in employment is a critical barrier to safe and secure housing for LGBTQ youth and adults,” says Gregory Lewis, CEO and Executive Director of True Colors United. “Discrimination against someone based on sexual orientation or gender identity is sex discrimination. This ruling makes clear that efforts underway at the Department of Housing and Urban Development to undercut protections for transgender people experiencing homelessness should not be allowed to continue under the law.”

LGBTQ people should be able to work without fear of being fired simply for who they are or who they love, and there is still work ahead to ensure lived equality for all. This comes at a significant time, as the coronavirus pandemic has had disproportionate economic impact in our community. Recent data shows that 17% of LGBTQ people and 22% of LGBTQ people of color reported becoming unemployed as a result of COVID-19, and 33% of LGBTQ people and 38% of LGBTQ people of color have had their work hours reduced.

“Today is a historic day and we take this moment to celebrate the LGBTQ freedom fighters who worked over decades to achieve this victory,” said Cyndi Lauper, co-founder and Board Member of True Colors United. “At the same time – this isn’t the finish line, this is a checkpoint. Let’s use this victory as a reminder that change is possible, and continue our work toward full equality for all.”

This decision doesn’t end discrimination. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court cannot end homophobia, transphobia, and racism. But today’s decision does send a powerful message to LGBTQ people that the law is on their side.

In recent weeks, protests and demonstrations have shined a light the systemic racism that perpetuates discrimination and violence against Black people. To be clear: there is no LGBTQ liberation without Black liberation. Even with today’s decision, Black LGBTQ people will still face disproportionate discrimination across their lives. As long as systemic anti-blackness exists in our laws and culture, the movement for LGBTQ equality will remain far from over.

Furthermore, no one should have to fear losing housing or social services based on their identity as an LGBTQ person.

And yet, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is currently working to undo rules protecting transgender people from just that. The Equal Access Rule protects transgender people from discrimination in homeless shelters and other HUD-funded services by ensuring that people can access services consistent with their gender identity – rather than just their sex-assigned-at-birth. HUD’s proposed change would allow homeless service providers to make determinations about if and how to house people based on their assumption of a person’s sex assigned at birth. In a nutshell, this proposed change would give providers a pass to discriminate based on a person’s gender identity.