feigenholtz 061620

State Senators Heather Steans and Sara Feigenholtz praised the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling in favor of extending Title VII employment protections to LGBT workers Monday, calling it justice for LGBT Americans.


“This decision represents long-overdue acknowledgment that LGBT people deserve protection against arbitrary discrimination on the job,” Steans said. “It is my hope that this decision also serves as the basis to undercut the president’s cruel move last week to deny trans Americans the right to medical care. This decision is justice for the LGBT community.”

Feigenholtz said the decision is welcome in light of Illinois’ leadership on trans rights for the past 15 years. When Illinois passed basic protections against discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity in January of 2005, it became one of only 15 states to do so, and one of only six to include an explicit ban on discrimination expressly based on gender identity. Illinois has since also explicitly banned the use of the “gay panic defense” in cases where a defendant murders a trans person. The Supreme Court ruling brings an end to a patchwork of inconsistent protections against such discrimination across the country.

“No person should have to worry about losing their job or being unfairly discriminated against at work because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Feigenholtz said. “This decision will finally extend the workplace protections enjoyed by so many other Americans to the LGBTQ+ community at the federal level. This is a major win in the fight to ensure LGBTQ+ individuals enjoy the same basic civil rights that so many of us often take for granted.”

The Supreme Court’s decision applies to two sets of cases. One involved a pair of lawsuits from gay men alleging they were fired because of their sexual orientation, and the other involved a suit from a transgender woman, Aimee Stephens, who alleged she was fired when she revealed her gender identity to her employers.

The ruling explicitly establishes that workplace discrimination of LGBT persons violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a conclusion first drawn by federal courts in Chicago and New York.

“In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee's sex when deciding to fire that employee,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in his ruling for the majority. “We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.”