The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a landmark civil rights law protects people from discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation and transgender status, a resounding victory for LGBTQ rights from a conservative court.
The court decided by a 6-3 vote that a key provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 known as Title VII that bars job discrimination because of sex, among other reasons, encompasses bias against LGBTQ workers.
"I was crying. I couldn't stop crying. It was happiness because of what he has been able to do, he and the other plaintiffs, what they have done to change this country,” said William Moore of Dallas.
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Moore is talking about Donald Zarda, his former partner and plaintiff in one of the cases.
Zarda, did not live to see the historic ruling.
“I wanted him to be able to see it. So there’s some sadness that he couldn't see it, but there is so much happiness for everyone of us that have worked so long,” added Moore.
Zarda was a skydiving instructor, who was fired after telling a woman who he would be jumping with, that he was gay. Soon after, he lost his job and decided to sue.
“It had a terrible impact on him. He became depressed, and he began to talk up these extreme sports,” said Moore.
Zarda died in 2014, after a diving accident in Switzerland. But Moore and Zarda's sister pursued the case, which ended on Monday.
Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the opinion on the vote.
"An employer who fired an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex," Gorsuch wrote for the court. "Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what title VII forbids,”
Moore said this ruling also helps him move forward after Zarda's death...
“We are so excited for what this has done for all of America, all of the LGBTQ plus community in America,” he added.
Cece Cox, CEO of Resource Center in Dallas called the decision ‘monumental.’ She also said there is still a long way to go.
In Texas, employment protection statutes don’t cover sexual orientation or gender identity on the state level. Cox said, while federal protections are now in place, that still leaves a portion of LGBTQ people vulnerable.
“Without protections in place in the state of Texas there are still vulnerabilities for people who work for an employer with 15 or fewer,” said Cox.
So those who work for small businesses could still be susceptible to discrimination. And Cox said there are several other concerns.
“It’s not public accommodations. It’s not housing. So, there’s still lots of opportunity for discrimination,” she said.
Still, Cox said she’ll take the win and keep pushing for more.
“This is a movement, and in a movement it’s not always forward,” she said. “It’s forwards, backwards, forwards, backwards. And today was a big step forward so we can continue to build upon those successes.”