In our previous episode of Average Joe SCOTUS, we talked about R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, a case where a transgender male -> female person was fired because of their desire to transition, and whether Title VII of the Civil Rights act, which protects people in the work place from being discriminated against for their sexual identity.
In this case, a very similar issue is at play. So apparently SCOTUS is looking to deal with sexual identity/orientation issues in one session, and establish precedent. But whereas the previous case was about someone transitioning from man to woman, this is about sexual preference.
Gerald Bostock is a gay man who worked for Clayton County as a child services coordinator starting in 2003. By all accounts, was a damn good employee, and did his job like a boss.
Eventually, in 2013, Bostock decided to join an all-gay softball league. The backass motherfuckers he worked for, decided to criticize him over his participation in this league. Presumably making up some bullshit argument to link gay men to abusing young boys or some shit. I have no fucking idea how they thought being gay would hinder his ability to do his job.
In meetings, one person in the room was even noted as making disparaging remarks about being gay against Bostock. Shortly after, they announced they were auditing him and his work, and he was terminated shortly after.
Bostock, assuming he was fired for his open gayness, and not because of his job performance sued. So here we are at SCOTUS trying to determine if the Civil Rights Act covers sexual orientation.
The crux of Bostock’s counsel’s argument was as follows:
John G. Roberts, Jr.
Do you agree or disagree with Judge Posner’s statement that the statute should be read to encompass sexual orientation discrimination to “avoid placing the entire burden of updating old statutes on the legislative branch”?
Pamela S. Karlan
I disagree with Judge Posner.
I don’t think you need to do any updating here.
I think you should read the words as they were understood then, which is men and women.
Title VII was intended to make sure that men were not disadvantaged relative to women and women were not disadvantaged relative to men. And when you tell two employees who come in, both of whom tell you they married their partner Bill last weekend, when you fire the male employee who married Bill and you give the female employee who married Bill a couple of days off so she can celebrate the joyous event, that’s discrimination because of sex. Well, if no one has any further questions, I’ll reserve the remainder of my time for rebuttal. (Laughter ensued because this was her first argument, which was then met with silence as if none of the justices had a question.)
In a pretty big landmark decision, spanning multiple cases, SCOTUS rules 6:3 that the Civil Rights Act (CRA) of 1964 does cover gay and transgender people. The CRA is meant to protect people who are born a certain way, and then employers discriminating against them for being that way. Their decision accepts the idea that being gay or transgender isn’t a choice, but a condition of who you are as a person.