LGBT rights face test at the Supreme Court

Olivia Alvord, Staff Writer


During the week of Oct. 8, 2019, the Supreme Court heard three cases involving LGBT rights and discrimination in the workplace—one concerning a skydiving instructor fired because he was gay in New York; another a Georgia State employee, fired because of his sexuality; and a third of a Michigan transgender woman who was fired from her job at a funeral home because of her transition. These cases that came the Supreme Court are being talked about in the media. This is due to the recent news of the engagement between two women on the popular ABC show, “Bachelor in Paradise,” the crowning of a transgender teen as part of a Homecoming royalty ceremony in Tennessee, and the presidential campaign by Mayor Pete Buttigieg of Indiana, with his husband by his side.

Despite there only being three cases to go to the Supreme Court, there are many other people who have experienced similar discrimination across the United States. These cases involve people who have reported discrimination in the workplace, and, in some cases, fired for being part of the LGBT community—which is lawful in at least 28 states. This is said to be one of the more significant cases of the Supreme Court’s term this year. Not to mention, the ruling has the potential to significantly alter the lives of the LGBT community in the U.S. These Supreme Court cases come just four years after the legalization of same-sex marriage across the nation. These rights are now facing the Supreme Court that is bringing these previous decisions to test. The 1964 Civil Rights Act may come into question when these cases are ruled on at the Supreme Court. This federal statute states that it is unlawful in the United States  to discriminate in the workplace based on race, religion, color, sex, and/or national origin. 

It is also important to note that the ruling of same-sex marriage just four years earlier in the Supreme Court made it possible for same-sex partners to marry. Members of the LGBT community could still be fired and discriminated against in the workplace based on their preferred gender identity and sexual orientation. This is because more than half of the nation lives in a state where there is no ban against job discrimination. 

According to USA Today, “Advocates say in the past two decades, the nation has come a long way on LGBT visibility and acceptance, but many Americans do not understand how legally vulnerable the population remains.” 

This statement concerns the 28 states that do not provide workplace discrimination rights to all. Examples of what is considered discrimination in the workplace today include: being declined a promotion; legally fired based on sex, gender, color, race, religion, and/or national origin; refused job training; and/or harassed on the job, etc. 

According to USA Today, “25% of people who identify within the LGBTQ community, reported experiencing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, according to a 2018 report.” 

As we await the new rulings at the Supreme Court level, many people have taken to the streets to protest what they think is right.

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