In a long overdue decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that workers cannot be fired for being gay or transgender, a major victory for the LGBTQ equality movement.
The court said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – which prohibits employers from discriminating against workers based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, pregnancy, disability or sex – applies to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, a conservative appointed by President Donald Trump, wrote the majority opinion in the 6-3 decision.
While workers in about half the country were already protected by local laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, there was no federal law that explicitly barred LGBTQ workers from being fired on that basis.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt joined 13 other Republican attorneys general last year signing onto a brief arguing that federal law did not protect lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals from workplace discrimination.
Monday’s ruling completely rejected that claim.
“An individual’s homosexuality or transgender status is not relevant to employment decisions,” Gorsuch wrote. “[I]t is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.”
Gorsuch was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., a fellow conservative, and the four members of the court’s liberal wing, and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh dissented.