The Supreme Court ruled today that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) individuals from workplace discrimination. In the ruling, the court affirmed that Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity are protected classes under sex discrimination.
The 6-3 decision comes almost five years after the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges to guarantee same-sex individuals the right to marriage. The liberal judges were joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Trump-appointed Justice Gorsuch. In the Opinion of the Court, Justice Gorsuch said:
“An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision; exactly what Title VII forbids.” – Neil Gorsuch, Associate Justice
This historic ruling protects nearly 4.1% of Texans who identify as LGBTQ+. Texas, like most states, does not have any protections for LGBTQ+ employment or housing protections. LGBTQ+ leaders in Texas will have an uphill battle next legislative session to try and bring Texas laws into parity with federal rulings. Last session, legislation was filed by Democrats to clean up language in Texas code to be reflective of the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, but it never made it out of committee. With federal law now protecting LGBTQ+ workers, Texas will have to address it. The creation of the Texas House LGBT Caucus during the 2019 Legislative session, means there is now a dedicated body of Texas legislators committed to fighting inequalities from a legislative standpoint. Looking into the 2021 Legislative session, members of the caucus promise an agenda that will continue to advocate for LGBTQ+ Texans.