Yesterday morning saw a landmark ruling in civil rights around the country. By a 6-3 margin, the Supreme Court of the United States established that it is illegal to fire LGBTQIA+ people for their gender or sexuality. This is a moment of vindication for Aimee Stephens, Gerald Bostock, Don Zarda, and every LGBT person who has ever faced threats to their livelihood, discrimination, or official censure for being themselves. All of the below news articles are drawn from the front pages at Newseum.org.
Protest for Equality in front of SCOTUS 2019, photo by Ted Eytan reused under CC BY-SA 2.0 License
Aimee Stephens - who tragically passed away on May 12 - has at least gotten vindication against her former employer for his hateful conduct. The actual scope of the ruling in question is staggering to LGBT rights advocates, who were unprepared for a conservative court to swing so emphatically towards such a remarkable ruling as this.
Without downplaying the historicity of yesterday’s ruling, civil rights advocates in Nebraska are also insistent that the work is not yet done. While the ruling is national law, advocates say it is vital to pass state laws affirming the national consensus. Earlier this year, Nebraska Gov. Ricketts had indicated that he would fight any attempt to enshrine LGBT specific laws into the state legal code, but advocates remain hopeful.
Advocates for LGBT rights in North Carolina are hopeful, but wary, thanks to Monday’s ruling. While employment protections are vital, they are redoubling efforts to ensure other basic protections like housing, healthcare, or even the right to exist in public spaces. A particular issue is North Carolina’s HB 142 which prevents civil rights protections from being passed state wide until December, despite many localities wanting to do so.
A store front in DC showing solidarity, photo by Ted Eytan reused under CC BY-SA 2.0 license
Despite the conservative majority - including two picks by Trump himself - the Supreme Court ruled against the Republican party line multiple times. Besides the ruling on LGBT employment rights, the court also refused to hear the Trump admin’s challenge to California’s so-called “sanctuary” law and a case brought by gun rights advocates intended to expand gun owners rights. These rulings only underline the divide between the American public and the GOP orthodoxy.
As LGBT people celebrate across the country, Floridian advocates are now facing up to an uncertain future. There are concerns that the success on Monday will leave state lawmakers feeling lax about protections for LGBT residents. For protections to be lasting and helpful to all LGBT Floridians, advocates say that protections must be enshrined specifically in state law. However, they don’t want their concerns to overshadow a decidedly joyful day.
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