Person waving an LGBTQ rainbow flag
Up until today, it was entirely legal for a private employer to fire someone for being gay or transgender.

In a watershed decision, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that it is illegal for employers to discriminate against their workers based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Up until today, it was entirely legal for a private employer to fire someone for being gay or transgender. No longer.

The historic ruling is a massive win for the LGBTQ rights movement – and one that few legal experts saw coming. With the recent appointment of conservative-leaning justices such as Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, many assumed the nation’s highest judicial body would reject any attempt to expand employment protections for LGBTQ individuals.

But in a surprise twist, Justice Gorsuch himself penned the majority opinion in which the court concluded it should be illegal to discriminate against gay and transgender people in the workplace.

The decision hinged on a textual interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlaws discrimination based on sex. The Supreme Court ultimately decided that sexual orientation and gender identity belong within the broad definition of “sex” – thus making them protected classes under the law.

White House Snubbed

Interestingly, the decision runs directly counter to guidance issued by the Trump Administration. The Justice Department had previously urged the Supreme Court not to expand the definition of Title VII.  

"The ordinary meaning of 'sex' is biologically male or female; it does not include sexual orientation," wrote the Justice Department. "An employer who discriminates against employees in same-sex relationships thus does not violate Title VII as long as it treats men in same-sex relationships the same as women in same-sex relationships."

Obviously, the court saw things differently.  

Justice Served, At Last

While this landmark ruling arrived seemingly overnight, the movement behind the issue of equal treatment for LGBTQ folks under the law has been a decades-long fight.  

Many, many people lost their jobs not because of poor performance or breaking conduct rules, but solely for having an identity that employers found “disagreeable.”

The 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage was a huge step forward, but the fact that just yesterday, someone could still be fired for being gay or trans illustrates how much progress is yet to be realized. Today marks another major milestone in that effort.

There’s a famous saying about LGBTQ employment discrimination that arose following the much-celebrated 2015 ruling: “you can get married on Sunday and fired on Monday.”

Thankfully, those days are over.

21 comments

  1. Tom Thackrey's Avatar Tom Thackrey

    SCOTUS being what it is, I am surprised. I think this is the right decision. No one should be fired for anything other than work performance or behavior.

  1. Dan Anderson's Avatar Dan Anderson

    It is good to see such a great movement created in the US Supreme Court. The arguments that have been used for so many decades to discriminate one human being from another is now obsolete, legally. To think it will all clear up immediately is fallacious, however. Like with racial bigotry, this form of hatred toward the LGBQ community will continue for a few generations until people are educated enough to stop believing in deliberate ignorant fabrications because of simple fear of someone who is not like themselves.

  1. The Rev. William C, Millhouse's Avatar The Rev. William C, Millhouse

    It is about time. I have lived in fear of being fired for most of my life.

  1. Mark Hannon's Avatar Mark Hannon

    I was fired in 1981 for being gay. I had been Employee of the Month two months before. It was a big company, too. They found out I attended Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit. The managers were mostly Catholic so they checked out what sort of church I went to. I worked there two years but I was out in a week after I slipped up and told them where I'd be for Christmas.

    1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      I'm very sorry to hear that you got fired from your job for being gay, Mark, and am very sorry to hear of others fired for that reason, too. I knew that a lot of employer wouldn't hire LGBTQ people, and knew teachers could be fired for it, but didn't know such discrimination applied to all kinds of jobs. In 1981, the year you got fired, I was eighteen years old and working for an openly gay man, who was the general manager of some beach parks, here in Galveston. That was a good place for gay people to work, and there were others who worked there. Not only that, but during the ten years he managed one of those parks it was well known as a family and gay beach. He fired me three times in three years, but that only had to do with the drunken antics of a practicing alcoholic. In 1983 I started going to A.A., and our Lambda group met twice a week at the MCC church. I don't work anymore, and have been on Disability for many years over injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. On other jobs I was never suspected as not being straight, and never worked with anyone who would d have been suspected of it iether. I guess that's why I never knew that people could get fired over it. I'm very happy to hear that law was changed. I have some very close friends and relatives who are gay who must be very much relieved. And I am very happy for them. I believe in equal rights for all.

  1. Herbert Moore's Avatar Herbert Moore

    Except for Gosuch and Roberts on one side and Kavenaugh on the other I cannot find how the others voted - although I can guess. Sorry about any misspelling of last names.

    1. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

      it's ok we know who you mean

  1. Darryl Mizer's Avatar Darryl Mizer

    I agree with the court. This is NOT a religious issue. It's a legal issue, which it shouldn't be.

  1. Clay Serenbetz's Avatar Clay Serenbetz

    While I support the outcome here, this is an interpretation of a statute enacted in 1964. I suspect that, back then, the members of Congress who voted for this Bill had no idea that 56 years later it would receive such an interpretation. This is why Justice Gorsuch vote is a surprise, as he adopted an interpretation that departs from the adopters intention. If Congress intends a different interpretation, then Congress should update the law. At this time, it is impossible to get the current Congress to update any statute with Moscow Mitch blocking any legislation. Generally, I have observed that Conservatives generally only follow strict interpretation when it suits their purposes.

    1. Ilmenheru Terikson's Avatar Ilmenheru Terikson

      Its less about interpretation and more about precedent when it comes to law. The legal precedent in the U.S. is that these groups qualify as minorities, thus to an actual legal scholar like gorsuch would go the route he did, placing law and the integrity of the office over kowtowing to the far right.

      Id been having some real doubt that with the current SC that the far right was on the verge of a real legal take over, but it seems like there are those who once they no longer need fear Drumpf firing them( small upside of the lifetime position in this case) it allows them to act based on their own ethics code.

      Lets hope Ginsburg holds on abit longer and we can get the rightwingers out before another seat opens up.

      1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

        It could just be that the Republican senators want to win the next election, and know Trump won't be there to save them, so getting votes will only be through their own merit.

  1. Master Wolf KSC's Avatar Master Wolf KSC

    This is a large step in the right direction.

  1. Alexander Clarke's Avatar Alexander Clarke

    Don't celebrate too much. The conservatives on the Court will allow many carve outs for exceptions.

  1. Asa William Sprague, II's Avatar Asa William Sprague, II

    Wow!! Capitalism gets aligned with humanitarianism. That doesn't happen very often. Three Cheers!!

  1. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

    it's about time that EVERYONE is given the same rights and protection equally.

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    It sounds like a sensible decision.

    🦁❤️

  1. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

    Comment has been removed.

  1. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

    "Employment-at-will" is not a red state concept. All states except Montana (For Montana it only the first six months that they can fire you), employ the employment-at-will doctrine in one form or another. Essentially, you can be fired for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all. You just can't be fired for an illegal reason.

  1. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

    God Really Did Create Adam and Steve

    We've all heard members of the religious right rambling their silly, anti-gay slogan, "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve." Well, on this National Coming Out Day, God is coming clean and admitting they're wrong: He did, in fact, create Adam and Steve.

    The Last Testament: A Memoir In the book, God talks about how he initially created two gay men in the Garden of Eden and why they eventually had to go back into the closet.

    It is often said-and even more often screamed at anti–gay marriage rallies outside the statehouse in Lansing-that I created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.

    Wrong.

    Now will I tell the story of the first man, Adam; and of the companion I fashioned for him, Steve; and of the great closeting that befell their relationship.

    For after I created the earth, and sea, and every plant and seed and beast of the field and fowl of the air, and had the place pretty much set up, I saw that it was good;

    But I also saw, that by way of oversight it made good administrative sense to establish a new middle managerial position.

    So as my final act of Day Six, I formed a man from the dust of the ground, and breathed life into his nostrils; and I called him Adam, to give him a leg up alphabetically.

    And lo, I made him for my image; not in my image, but for my image; because with Creations thou never gettest a second chance to make a first impression;

    And so in fashioning him I sought to make not only a responsible planetary caretaker, but also an attractive, likeable spokesman who in the event of environmental catastrophe could project a certain warmth.

    To immediately assess his ability to function in my absence, I decided to change my plans; for I had intended to use Day Seven to infuse the universe with an innate sense of compassion and moral justice; but instead I left him in charge and snoozed.

    And Adam passed my test; yea, he was by far my greatest achievement; he befriended all my creatures, and named them, and cared for them; and tended the Garden most skillfully; for he had a great eye for landscape design.

  1. Richard Lee Cornell's Avatar Richard Lee Cornell

    I the City of Atlanta, Georgia if you hire a person it is impossible to fired that person. He/she might come in late everyday, slack in their work, be rude to everyone in the place, but under that law in that city you can not fired that person. So a employer will look closely at who they hired. Good workers are hard to find. Firing a person is a tough decision if the employer spent a lot of money training that person. Firing a person who rather not sleep with the bosses daughter usually backfires against the employer. It is like firing a person who decides to change religion from that of the boss to another.

  1. Christian's Avatar Christian

    Are you Saved, brothers & sisters ?

    You know your body will die, this old leather bag will be put down into the ground...

    Do you think it matters if it was a purse or a suitcase ? The flesh matters not.

    Jesus matters. Christ Saves You. God Loves You. LOVE is God.

    Worry not for the flesh that passes away, but in all things, give your life to Jesus - to build up a store of real treasure in the Kingdom of God to come...

    Christ Bless You in this Life & in the After Life to come . . .

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