During the week of October 7, the Supreme Court heard three cases relating to LGBTQ+ discrimination. Their decisions for these cases will determine the progress of LGBTQ+ rights in the twenty-first century. In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, legalizing it in all fifty states, but still there is no federal law banning LGBTQ+ discrimination in the workplace, for housing, and many other areas.
All three cases are arguing that someone was discriminated against based on their sex, a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Two of the cases were combined because they involved two men who were fired after coming out as gay. The third was a case of a transgender woman who, after previously presenting as a man, came out as transgender to her employer and was subsequently fired. According to The New Yorker, Pamela Karlan, representation for one of the plaintiffs, argued the relevance of sex discrimination rather than sexual orientation discrimination before the Supreme Court with this analogy: if two workers inform their employer of their marriage to their partner, Bill, and the employer fires the male employee, but gives the female employee time off for her honeymoon, that’s sex discrimination.
These cases were argued during an important week. Thursday, October 10, Democratic primary candidates participated in a town hall hosted by CNN dedicated to the discussion of LGBTQ+ issues and the candidates policy positions. This is a contrast to the 2008 election, when the idea of a candidate supporting marriage equality was political suicide. Several candidates have rolled out their policy plans for LGBTQ+ legislative progression including top pollers like Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders. Most candidates support passing the Equality Act–a bill passed in the House of Representatives and currently blocked in the Senate by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell–which federally protects LGBTQ+ people against dicrimination. And to end the week, Friday, October 11 was National Coming Out Day: a day that celebrates the decision that LGBTQ+ people make to reveal their identities to loved ones and the world.