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June 15, 2020Statement

Disability Rights Pennsylvania Celebrates the Landmark Supreme Court Rulings on LGBTQ Rights

Disability Rights Pennsylvania Celebrates the Landmark Supreme Court Rulings on LGBTQ Rights

LGBTQ people are now protected under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Disability Rights Pennsylvania (DRP) applauds the landmark United States Supreme Court (Court) ruling protecting the rights of LGBTQ individuals in the workplace. On Monday, June 11, 2020, the Court held that “[A]n employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII. Pp. 4-33.” The Court’s decision was 6-3. Justice Gorsuch delivered the majority opinion and was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan.

Title VII is part of the groundbreaking 1964 Civil Rights Act that made it unlawful to discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This new ruling now concretely affirms the rights of LGBTQ individuals and extends those protections to them within the context of the workplace.

DRP, as members of the disability community, is familiar with the struggle for equity and accountability in the workplace. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 made is illegal to discriminate on the basis of disability in employment. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of disability in government hiring and government-funded programs.

The disability community stands at the intersection of all communities including the LGBTQ community. This legal victory follows many efforts over decades to gain basic civil rights across municipalities, states, and in small and large businesses. Like all civil rights protections, it doesn’t end discrimination but gives an opportunity to remedy the harm.

The Court joined three cases on appeal from the Eleventh, Second, and Sixth Circuit Courts. Those cases are Bostock v. Clayton County Georgia;

Altitude Express, Inc., et al. v. Zarda et al.,; and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission et al,.

June is the celebration of Pride Month. The rights we are currently witnessing being enshrined into law is thanks, in no small part, to the work of black and brown queer activists who fought to have their humanity recognized by both the public and the highest courts in the country. As we reflect in celebration, trans black and brown people are under enormous threat of bodily harm and death for simply existing. So, while we reflect in celebration for this milestone, there is still work to be done. We must continue moving society forward towards the inclusion of all marginalized peoples.