In a landmark 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This is big! Now, under Title VII, employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is illegal in every state in the country. This decision means progress for LGBTQ Americans, but it does not mean that full equality has been achieved.
Here are 5 pieces of work that must go on:
1) Black Lives Matter- The rights of LGBTQ people will not be secure until we end the systemic ways in which racism is used to oppress Black people and other people of color—economically, socially, and in the voting booth. It is important to name whiteness as the root of racism— white supremacy, white privilege, and white complacency must end.
2) The Equality Act- While this Supreme Court decision makes LGBTQ employment discrimination illegal, it is still crucial that The Equality Act passes to ensure clear and consistent LGBTQ federal civil rights protections. Even with the ruling, LGBTQ individuals can still be discriminated against in housing, public accommodations, credit, and federally funded programs.
3) HHS Ruling on Section 1557- On June 12th, the Trump Administration rolled back basic healthcare protections for the transgender community. They changed a rule such that it invites insurance companies and medical providers to deny patients care because of who they are. There are numerous things LGBTQ individuals, allies, and employers should be aware of in response to this ruling.
4) Workplace Culture- Legal protections matter. But they won’t, by themselves, change the reality in which half of LGBTQ workers in America are in the closet at work. To quote Aimee Stephens, “Meaningful social change does not instantly come to be by the stroke of a judge’s pen.” We need to build genuinely inclusive workplace cultures where everyone belongs. Every LGBTQ person should be able to bring their full and authentic selves to work.
5) Global Advocacy- No matter how monumental this Supreme Court ruling is for LGBTQ people in the U.S, it does not impact LGBTQ individuals across the globe. 70 countries in the world still criminalize same-sex sexual acts, and more countries criminalize ‘homosexuality’ in other ways, subjecting individuals to dangers, abuses, harassment, and violations based on their gender identity and sexuality.