Gay/Lesbian Issues

Supreme Court Won't Decide Whether Civil Rights Act Bans Anti-LGBT Discrimination

Lower courts are split on whether sex-based protections cover orientation.

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Pink slip
Peter Kim / Dreamstime

The Supreme Court will not yet step in to rule on whether federal laws against discrimination on the basis of sex also forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Today the top court declined to hear a lawsuit from a woman in Georgia who claims she was harassed and forced out of her job as a hospital security guard because of her sexual orientation. Lambda Legal, the LGBT-issue-focused legal group that represented her, argues that this violated Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.

That law does not explicitly mention sexual orientation as a protected category, and for much of its history it was treated as though orientation were not included. Many states have chosen over time to add sexual orientation and sometimes gender identity to their own discrimination laws. But Georgia has not.

There is, however, a Supreme Court precedent—established in 1989's Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins—that discrimination based on whether a person expresses stereotypical masculine or feminine behaviors counts as sex-based discrimination. In this security guard's case and similar cases, lawyers argue that discrimination over sexual orientation is rooted in sex-based stereotypes about how males and females should look and behave, and that Title VII therefore covers it after all.

This view of the law does have some federal court rulings supporting it, but it has not made it up to the Supreme Court for a final decision. The interpretation played a significant role in the Obama administration's decision to tell schools they must accommodate transgender students' restroom and locker room choices. The issue of transgender accommodation in schools was heading to the Supreme Court, but when Attorney General Jeff Sessions took over, the Department of Justice reversed its stance, taking the position that federal discrimination laws do not cover sexual orientation or gender identity. Tthe Supreme Court subsequently punted the bathroom case back down to the lower courts, leaving the matter somewhat unsettled as a matter of law.

An 11th Circuit Court of Appeals panel rejected the Georgia woman's claim in March. In April, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, determined the opposite—that the Civil Rights Act does prohibit discrimination against gays and lesbians. So there is a split in federal court rulings, making the Supreme Court's decision not to hear the case a bit of a surprise.

The Supreme Court did not indicate why justices are declining to take the case. A representative from Lambda Legal said in a statement that they're going to keep pushing to get the issue in front of the Supreme Court. Unless Congress passes a law settling the matter one way or the other, this seems likely to end up before the Supreme Court eventually.

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44 responses to “Supreme Court Won't Decide Whether Civil Rights Act Bans Anti-LGBT Discrimination

  1. All I need to know is are sheep fuckers a protected class too?

    1. I believe you’ve been around here long enough to know the answer is “yes”.

    2. Every weird, perverted, discussing, self-destructive sexual activity is protected except heterosexual prostitution. Think about that for a while.

    3. Things are getting worse for people who fuck sheep. Germany outlawed bestiality in 2013. The spokesman for Zoophilic Engagement for Tolerance and Enlightenment spoke against the law. It’s nice how the New York Times manages to show both sides of the debate in a fair and balanced way … unless they are reporting about Trump. Anyway, short story even shorter, Mr. Zimmermann insists that he did not have sex with that dalmatian.

      1. Don’t oppress the trans-species.

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  2. The issue of transgender accommodation in schools was heading to the Supreme Court, but when Attorney General Jeff Sessions took over, the Department of Justice reversed its stance, taking the position that federal discrimination laws do not cover sexual orientation or gender identity.

    So much winning…

    MAGA

    1. This was probably a bad move. Should’ve carried it to the SCOTUS, then done everything possible to sink their own case, and try to get a ruling against it. Then the conservatives can make like the liberals and squeal “settled law! settled law!”

      1. This is the kind of game the democrats would play, only to have it blow up in their faces.

        The republicans tend to play more “conservatively”, you might say.

      2. Pretty sure that if you intentionally tank your own case, that’s called “malpractice”.

    2. Shitting on minorities just to be a dick! Winning! Kim Davis 2024!

      1. What minority do you speak of progtard? People who are delusional and suffer from body dysmorphia?

  3. The Supreme Court will not yet step in to rule on whether federal laws against discrimination on the basis of sex also forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

    How about just calling “sexual orientation” a “creed”?

    1. Is it lacist to refer to refer to a gay Chinaman’s sexual orientation?

  4. The Supreme Court did not indicate why justices are declining to take the case.

    “Some things you people just have to settle on your own.”

  5. The Supreme Court did not indicate why justices are declining to take the case.

    “We don’t feel like it.”

    1. “We looked at the exhibit, not titillating enough for us. No, not even Sotomayor.”

    2. “The last thing we want is a bunch of Trannies prancing around here.”

      1. “What’s under *your* robe?”

        1. A true Justice doesn’t wear anything.

  6. that the Civil Rights Act does prohibit discrimination against gays and lesbians. So there is a split in federal court rulings, making the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case a bit of a surprise.

    Perhaps we’ll get one decision for every category of gender.

    1. Not how it works. Straight, white Christian men can’t be discriminated against for those traits either. Which is a good thing considering how especially at-risk those groups are.

      1. Why not? I don’t like them either.

      2. Not to nitpick, but in my experience “straight,” “white,” “Christian” and “male” are pretty much the last four groups it’s perfectly okay to discriminate against. In fact, in many sectors its positively encouraged.

        1. But they deserve it because the of the crusades and the Hindenburg or something.

        2. Yet they remain economically and socially dominant. They must be even more better at life than they let on.

          1. Actually, Asians and Jews are “economically and socially dominant.” Shouldn’t you be bitching about Asian and Jewish privilege?

            1. They do, but they return Jews to the ‘white’ column for that. Because Jews are Caucasians.

              1. Sammy Davis Jr. disagrees.

  7. I like this argument because it’s just logical enough to get over complaints that it warps the law beyond all intent. I think Congress probably likes it too if it means they don’t have to weigh in on the matter.

  8. I “Stand With Rand” in agreement that the Civil Rights Act is an unnecessary and redundant piece of legislation on a theoretical basis. The implication is the Constitution, and specifically the Bill of Rights, is an umbrella protection for all citizens with no need to single out any one specific group. On a practical basis I have seen enough, discrimination, and persecution to know that some folks need to be hit over the head harder to be civil and some folks need added protection.

    But I’ve often asked how many people are in the transgender camp. Serious question; are there any reliable and honest data on those numbers or percentages?

    1. How can you people be expected to have reasonalbe opinions about this when you obviously don’t know what the hell you’re talking about?

      The CRA doesn’t single any group out. It singles out traits you can’t use to discriminate against someone for. It applies equally to men and women, Christians and Muslims, and occasionally gays and straights.

      As to their numbers, what is the point of the question? How few people does a group have to have before it’s OK for them not to have rights?

      1. WOW does your dense thinking pattern interfere with your breathing?

        The Civil Rights Act was pass specifically to protect Former slaves in 1864 and re-passed in 1964 to protect mainly black minorities and other groups were too added. The numbers question is based on the amount of time money and press devoted to an issue. I was wondering just how many people are we talking about. Nowhere did I say anything about “justified” rights oppression.

      2. It singles out traits you can’t use to discriminate against someone for.

        Wait, define ‘trait’.

        1. It’s that patch of skin between the scrotum and the anus.

      3. That must be why Curves gym was shut down because of it’s discrimination against men…. oh wait.

        “As to their numbers, what is the point of the question? How few people does a group have to have before it’s OK for them not to have rights?”
        A human right to have any baker in the country bake them a cake at gunpoint? No one has that right, sorry

        You also ignore the point about it being unnecessary. Which is is, as demonstrated by the lack of widespread discrimination against gays in North Carolina. Even for small groups, it’s not worth the cost for business to discriminate.

        1. One day you’ll understand the difference between a public accommodation and a private club.

          One day.

      4. How does Barnard College get around federal anti-discrimination laws?

  9. I THINK IT’S FUNNY THAT ON THE ATTACHED PICTURE, A GAY MAN IS DOING THE FIRING!

    1. Did you just assume xer’s gender? RACIST!

  10. I think the 7th Circuit Court was correct to apply the Civil Rights Act to sexual orientation. However, I think it’s odd that the 7th Circuit Court lets Chicago write laws that punish women for going topless, but not men. How would they rule if a pre-op transgender man gets arrested for going topless in Chicago?

  11. Poor pitiful Libertarian party, turning their backs on their principled freedom of association, as the sole escape from both legally enforced integration and segregation, so that all can peaceably create communities on the basis of lifestyle values, without regard for the enforced color judgments of the racist crap in D.C.? just so they can help liberals deceitfully posture as civil rights activists.

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