The Ruling was a Victory for LGBTQ Equality as it Ensured that Employment Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity is Illegal
WASHINGTON — Today, The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, is celebrating the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, which cemented the legal interpretation that employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In January 2021, President Joe Biden issued the most substantive, wide-ranging LGBTQ executive order in U.S. history that directed agencies to enforce federal laws that prohibit sex discrimination to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, consistent with the Bostock decision. Though Bostock and the executive order are important first steps, they do not cover all areas of civil rights law. The Equality Act is federal legislation that codifies Bostock and the executive order, and broadly addresses discrimination against LGBTQ people and improves many aspects of the existing civil rights laws.
In November 2020, the Human Rights Campaign published the Blueprint for Positive Change — a comprehensive set of recommendations to move the federal government into adopting more inclusive, safe, and accepting policies and practices. HRC requested that the Biden administration issue an order to implement the Bostock decision after the Trump administration failed to properly enforce it across federal agencies, instead arguing LGBTQ people were not protected under federal civil rights laws.
The protections guaranteed by Bostock are also significant because LGBTQ adult Americans are more likely than the general population to live in poverty and suffer from unemployment and employment discrimination. Nearly one in ten LGBTQ people are unemployed and about one in five LGBTQ adults in the U.S. live in poverty. Additionally, the poverty rates of transgender adults in the U.S. is 29% and tower over those of other groups; while Black transgender adults and Latinx transgender adults are more likely to live in poverty than transgender people of any other race.
The Bostock anniversary comes as the LGBTQ community awaits another impactful Supreme Court decision in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, a case regarding whether foster care agencies that receive government funds can violate city law and discriminate against prospective parents based on the agency’s religious beliefs. The case could have had a sweeping, harmful impact in the provision of child welfare services by enabling discrimination against LGBTQ people, same-sex couples, interfaith couples, single parents and others. The decision is expected to be announced before the end of June.
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