Marriage May Be The Law Of The Land But You Can Still Be Fired For Being Gay
Thanks to the Supreme Court, gay marriage has been legal since June 2015. However, LGBTQ people can still be fired in the workplace just for their sexual orientation. Only 22 states and DC have laws that protect people on the basis of sexual orientation.
While most other countries outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation before allowing gay marriage, the Unite States has gone in reverse.
It wasn't until Obama's administration that courts started to rule that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act included sexual orientation. The official rule states that discrimination is outlawed based on "race, color, religion, sex or national origin." Until recently, it wasn't interpreted to include sexual orientation. Now, under President Trump a split seems to be happening.
In Zarda vs Altitude Express, a deceased sky diver's estate is suing the company on the grounds he was fired for being gay. The case is in the 2nd Circuit of appeals, and Department of Justice has filed an amicus opposing it, arguing whether Title VII does include sexual orientation.
A lot of people don't realize this and may be wondering why this is the case. The key factor is that it hasn't gone to the Supreme Court yet. The closest it got was in 1989 in Price Waterhouse vs Hopkins, when it was ruled that Title VII also prohibited discrimination on sexual stereotypes as well. It allowed people to not have to follow normal ideas of how men or women should act or dress.
Depending on how Zarda vs Altitude Express goes it could make it's way to the Supreme Court. With the present court it could result in a ruling against a nationwide law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Anthony Kennedy is the swing vote, and if he retires as he has hinted at, Trump could appoint a more conservative judge tipping the vote.
The fact it hasn't been voted on yet though, isn't because a lack of trying. Most previous bills just failed to pass. It wasn't until recent years that the vast majority of people supported gay marriage. Also, when it came to marriage there was a universality to it. People knew marriage, love. When it comes to discrimination it's harder to prove. Also, most people have not experienced it, which makes it harder to have a sympathetic ear.
While gay people do have the most support so far in the nation, we can hope that with the surge of support we can see a national law preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation.