In many ways, the 6-3 decision announced today by a Supreme Court with a 5-4 conservative majority marks the most significant legal milestone yet for LGTBQ people — an estimated 293,000 of whom live in the greater San Francisco area.* Not everyone wants or needs to get married, but virtually everyone needs to find employment.
Writing for the six-justice majority, which was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch said, "An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law." And, he wrote, "It is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex," therefore the stipulation in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits employment discrimination "because of sex" applies equally to gay and trans people.
As longtime gay rights leader and onetime advisor to Bill Clinton, David Mixner, tells the New York Times today, "For four decades plus, we have been fighting hard to get what turns out to be the most difficult one, employment protection. It’s the most important one." He adds, "For years I’ve said we have 30-some states where it’s still legal to fire a person for being LGBTQ. Now I can’t say that anymore."
And while the state of California and many cities here have been explicitly protecting LGBTQ people from employment and housing discrimination for decades, the same can not be said in much of the country — meaning that this ruling by the Supreme Court has the potential to have lasting and profound impacts for gay, queer, and trans people in the workplace in all corners of the land.
Reacting to the decision today, Governor Gavin Newsom writes on Twitter, "You should never have to fear losing your job simply because of who you are or who you love. To see that righted today is an extraordinary thing. The fight for true equality continues."
San Francisco Mayor London Breed says, "This is a historic moment for our country and the LGBTQ community." And State Senator Scott Wiener tweets, "This is a watershed moment. The era of discrimination against our community must end & will end." Wiener is also hosting a previously planned Instagram Live broadcast today at 6 p.m. with soccer stars Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris to discuss Pride and the fight for racial justice.
You should never have to fear losing your job simply because of who you are or who you love.— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) June 15, 2020
To see that righted today is an extraordinary thing. The fight for true equality continues. https://t.co/XViX6TXhB3
#SCOTUS ruled that firing an employee simply because of who they are or who they love violates Title VII. This is a historic moment for our country and the LGBTQ community. https://t.co/Gk0kqS9yPj— London Breed (@LondonBreed) June 15, 2020
Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a huge step forward in the fight for equality for #LGBTQ people. No one should ever lose their job b/c of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is a watershed moment. The era of discrimination against our community must end & will end.— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) June 15, 2020
Senator Kamala Harris also called the decision a "major victory" for the LGBTQ community, and Senator Dianne Feinstein echoed that saying, "LGBT employees should NEVER be afraid to lose their jobs because of who they are."
And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi writes in a statement, "Today, the Supreme Court has unequivocally affirmed that all Americans, regardless of who you are or whom you love, are protected from discrimination in the workplace under federal law. This momentous decision is a victory for the LGBTQ community, for our democracy and for our fundamental values of equality and justice for all." She went further to press Senator Mitch McConnell and the Republican-led Senate to pass the Equality Act, which the House passed last year "to finally and fully end LGBTQ discrimination, not just in the workplace."
A major victory for LGBTQ+ rights. No one should be discriminated against because of who they are or who they love. https://t.co/ByvD0z67X3— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 15, 2020
Today’s Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County is a long overdue victory for equality. LGBT employees should NEVER be afraid to lose their jobs because of who they are. Today’s ruling means that right will be protected for all Americans.— Senator Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) June 15, 2020
Meanwhile, Fox News has news of the decision already "below the fold" on their website front page, and President Trump has been oddly silent on the decision so far.
As one Fox News fan comments on the story, "This is the biggest story of the year, yet Fox News diminishes it's [sic] importance by not even putting it at the top of the page. This will be an issue for generations. I'm hopeful that, after RBG is no longer on the Court for whatever reason, there'll be another case that reaches the Court that will provide them opportunity to protect the other 99% of the population that lost rights because of this ruling."
Again, Karen, no one is taking away your rights, and LGBT people represent far more than 1% of the population outside your gated retirement community.
*Estimate based on the 2015 Gallup poll that found that 6.2% of the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metro area identified as LGBT, and a 2018 population estimate for that metro area of 4,729,000.