Supreme Court takes up cases about LGBT people’s rights

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in two of the term’s most closely watched cases over whether federal civil rights law protects LGBT people from job discrimination.

The cases Tuesday are the court’s first on LGBT rights since Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement and replacement by Justice Brett Kavanaugh. A decision is expected by early summer 2020, amid the presidential election campaign.

The issue is whether a key provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bars discrimination in employment because of sex covers LGBT people.

A ruling for employees who were fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity would have a big impact for the estimated 8.1 million LGBT workers across the country because most states don’t protect them from workplace discrimination. An estimated 11.3 million LGBT people live in the U.S., according to the Williams Institute at the UCLA law school.

Kennedy was a voice for gay rights and the author of the landmark ruling in 2015 that made same-sex marriage legal throughout the United States. Kavanaugh generally is regarded as more conservative. The Trump administration has changed course from the Obama administration and now supports the employers in arguing that the civil rights law’s Title 7 does not prohibit discrimination because of sexual orientation or transgender status. People have been waiting in line outside the court since the weekend to try to snag the few seats the court makes available to the public for arguments.

The justices will first hear appeals in lawsuits filed by Gerald Lynn Bostock, who claims he lost his job working for Clayton County, Georgia, after he began playing in a gay recreational softball league. He lost his case in federal district court and at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

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