by Diane Robertson
For years, the LGBT community has been seeking to make sexual orientation and transgenderism part of non-discrimination laws that were written during the civil rights movement. They have been successful in several states and cities across the nation, and have been the source of frustrating law suits and penalties for small business owners who believed they could conscientiously run their businesses. Those laws may no longer be an issue. Once again, the federal court system has laid claim to social issues important to the people.
The 7th circuit court ruled last week that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects LGBT employees from workplace discrimination. In contrast, and 2nd and the 11th Circuit Courts both ruled, in March, that due to existing legal precedent, the court did not have the power to extend Title VII protections from the 1964 Act to LGBT.
The majority on the 7th Circuit came to the opposite conclusion. Writing for the majority, Judge Diane Wood claimed that, “Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination.” Like the other courts, the 7th referred to the 1964 Civil Rights Act for their ruling. The majority (8-3) on the 7th Circuit Court simply concluded that sexual orientation has the same meaning as the word “sex” in existing law.
“Any discomfort, disapproval, or job decision based on the fact that the complainant — woman or man — dresses differently, speaks differently, or dates or marries a same-sex partner, is a reaction purely and simply based on sex,” Wood wrote.
She added, “That means that it falls within Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination, if it affects employment in one of the specified ways.”
This wording and use of sex for sexual orientation is dangerous, making gender insignificant and obsolete. While this is for employment, verbiage in one law has a way of making it into other laws including laws for education and public accommodations.
Now that there is a clear dissent among the federal appellate courts, many legal experts expect the that the Supreme Court will take one or more of these cases. Just like marriage laws, discrimination laws will be taken over by the federal government and the people will have little say in these important social issues.