Since June 2015, same-sex couples have had a constitutional right to marry, yet queer Americans still enjoy no federal protection from workplace discrimination based on their sexual orientation or transgender identity. 25 states do not have their own civil-rights umbrella for LGBTQ people. A gay employee can return to work from their honeymoon and be fired. Transgender people have no recourse in these states when their bosses fire or demote them for presenting themselves as their preferred gender.
In recent years, a push for greater equality has had some success at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and in several federal appeals courts which have pointed to protection against employment discrimination for LGBTQ in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Meanwhile, the Trump administration and other courts are sticking to their less expansive readings of that law. After months of discussion in private conference, the Supreme Court agreed to resolve the issue. Late in 2019, the justices will take up LGBTQ Rights for the first time since Justice Anthony Kennedy, author of the Marriage Equality decision and a trio of rulings that led to that path, retired last June under rather murky circumstances. Now we have the ultra-conservative Neil Gorsuch and beer-loving Brett Kavanaugh, friend of Squee, on the bench. And, it doesn’t look pretty.
The SCOTUS decision in these three cases will resolve the issue that is the subject of differing opinions among courts and federal agencies. Two of the cases: Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, and Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, involve employees who were terminated because they were gay. The third case, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, involves the termination of a transgender employee. The three decisions will determine whether discrimination against employees based upon their sexual orientation, gender identity and/or transgender status violates federal law. The determination should also resolve the inconsistent positions of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which maintains that discrimination because of gender identity or sexual orientation violates federal law, and the Department of Justice, headed by lyin’ Big Bill Barr, which maintains that federal law does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
On Thursday, the Trump administration finalized new rules making it easier for health care workers to refuse to provide care that violates their religious or moral beliefs, advancing a policy favored by Christian conservatives. The announcement was made during Rose Garden ceremony noting the National Day of Prayer.
The rules will protect physicians, pharmacists, nurses, teachers, students and faith-based charities.
The administration said the new rules will bolster enforcement of more than two dozen existing federal laws protecting “conscience rights”. However, providers will able to refuse care to LGBTQ patients. The Department of Health and Human Services is expected to pare back nondiscrimination protections extended to transgender patients under an Obama-era policy that has been blocked in the courts.
Roger Severino, director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, which is overseeing the new rules, said:
We are giving these laws life with this regulation.
Trump’s ban on transgender military personnel has evolved after a lengthy battle with multiple federal court injunctions, and the latest version went into effect April 12. The current version of the ban prohibits new military recruits from transitioning and allows the military to discharge those currently serving if they do not present as their birth gender.
I swear, Trump and his allies just keep chipping away at the rights of LGBTQ citizens. Help us, Miss Lindsey Graham!