Ahead of the Supreme Court hearing three major cases on discrimination against LGBTQ workers, the Department of Justice asked the court to legalize anti-gay workplace discrimination on Friday, arguing that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 doesn’t protect LGBTQ workers from being fired because of their sexual orientation.
According to BuzzFeed News, an amicus brief filed by the DOJ argues Congress never intended for the protections of Title VII, which outlaws discrimination “because of sex,” to extend to sexual orientation.
From BuzzFeed News:
But the administration says in its brief Friday that Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination only prohibits unequal treatment between “biological sexes,” as it argued last week in a related brief against transgender rights, in which the Justice Department said companies should be able to fire people because they are transgender as well.
Congress did not explicitly say that the meaning of sex in Title VII encompasses LGBTQ people, so, the administration argues, the law cannot apply to sexual orientation. Federal lawyers are asking the Supreme Court, for the first time, to explicitly limit the Civil Right Act’s protections to exclude LGBTQ people.
The cases at hand involve allegations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, with one stemming from an allegation of discrimination because of gender identity. In one case, a funeral home employee alleges she was fired after she came out as transgender and told her employer she was transitioning. In the two other cases, a skydiving instructor was allegedly fired after a customer complained to his employer that he was gay and a county employee in Georgia alleges he was also fired because of his sexual orientation.
Despite the Trump administration’s absurd insistence, lower courts have ruled that LGBTQ people cannot be fired because of their sexual orientation. Last year, in the case of the skydiving instructor, who died in 2014, a federal appeals court in New York ruled that “sexual orientation discrimination is motivated, at least in part, by sex and is thus a subset of sex discrimination.”
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SCOTUS will hear oral arguments in all three cases on Oct. 8.