While Der Trumpenführer's diktat against transgender members of the military is receiving the most media attention, another sinister effort is being pushed by Trump's Department of Justice that would declare that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not afford any protections to LGBT individuals targeted for discrimination. Specifically, Attorney General Jeff Sessions - a man with a long history of both racism and anti-LGBT animus - filed an amicus brief filed in Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The case involves an employee, Donald Zarda, a skydiving instructor, who filed suit against his employer in federal court in New York, alleging that the company terminated him for his sexual orientation in violation of Title VII. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") supported Zarda last month in its own court filing. BuzzFeed looks at the case and Trump/Sessions' effort to leave LGBT with no non-discrimination protections (something that would thrill Christofascists and evangelical Christians). Here are highlights:
The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday argued in a major federal lawsuit that a 1964 civil rights law doesn’t protect gay workers from discrimination, thereby diverging from a separate, autonomous federal agency that had supported the gay plaintiff’s case.
The Trump administration’s filing is unusual in part because the Justice Department isn’t a party in the case, and the department doesn’t typically weigh in on private employment lawsuits.
But in an amicus brief filed at the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, lawyers under Attorney General Jeff Sessions contend that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans sex discrimination, does not cover sexual orientation.
The Justice Department also contends that Title VII only applies if men and women are treated unequally.
"The essential element of sex discrimination under Title VII is that employees of one sex must be treated worse than similarly situated employees of the other sex, and sexual orientation discrimination simply does not have that effect," the brief says.
After a lower court ruled and the case was appealed, the 2nd Circuit invited outside parties to weigh in. Zarda v. Altitude Express is now before before a full panel of judges at the court.
Among Zarda’s boosters is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a largely autonomous federal agency that handles civil rights disputes in the workplace, which supported Zarda last month in its own court filing.
For several years, the EEOC has declared in federal court that Title VII bans anti-gay discrimination, saying it is based on sex stereotyping, and therefor discrimination on the basis of sex.
If Zarda’s argument were to prevail — despite his death in base-jumping accident in 2014 — it would set new precedent in the circuit by overturning two cases from the 2000s.
Further, it would give momentum to the argument as a general matter, given that the 7th Circuit ruled in favor of lesbian in April who made the same claim.
Earlier on Wednesday, Trump announced he would end all transgender military service.
“On the day that will go down in history as Anti-LGBT Day, comes one more gratuitous and extraordinary attack on LGBT people’s civil rights," said a statement from James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's LGBT & HIV Project. "The Sessions-led Justice Department and the Trump administration are actively working to expose people to discrimination."
Let it not be forgotten that every friend, family member or neighbor of an LGBT American voted for this attack on our basic civil rights when they voted for Donald Trump. Do NOT give them a pass or forgive them for the harm that they set in motion and will be continuing to support as long as they continue to support Trump and the GOP more generally. With "friends" like these Trump supporters, one doesn't need an enemy.