As numerous posts on this blog have noted, the Trump/Pence regime has been going to great lengths to roll back LGBT rights and to undo LGBT friendly regulations from the Obama administration. Part of this anti-gay animus motivated agenda has been to have the U.S. Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions - who has a decades long history of being an enemy of LGBT individuals - to intervene in cases in which the U.S. Government is not even a party. Today, this ploy backfired mightily when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit sitting en banc ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to LGBT individuals and bars anti-LGBT discrimination. The ruling is a major defeat for the Trump/Pence regime which only the U.S. Supreme Court, were it so inclined, could overturn. BuzzFeed looks at this welcomed ruling and slap in the face to the always disingenuous Sessions. Here are excerpts:
A federal appeals court on Monday ruled that a 1964 civil rights law bans anti-gay workplace discrimination. The decision rebukes the Trump administration — which had argued against a gay worker in the case — and hands progressives a win in their strategy to protect LGBT employees with a drumbeat of lawsuits.
The dispute hinges on whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans discrimination on the basis of sex, also bans workplace discrimination due to sexual orientation.
The Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled Monday, “We now hold that sexual orientation discrimination constitutes a form of discrimination ‘because of . . . sex,’ in violation of Title VII.” In doing so, the court overruled a lower court — and a precedent from two previous court cases — and remanded the case to be litigated in light of their reading of Title VII.
The decision holds national implications due to its high tier in the judicial system, and because it’s seen as a litmus test of the Trump administration’s ability — or inability — to curb LGBT rights through court activism. The Justice Department had injected itself into the case even though it wasn’t a party to the lawsuit and doesn’t normally involve itself in private employment disputes.
The case was heard in New York City by all 13 judges in the 2nd Circuit, known as an en banc hearing, which leaves the Supreme Court as the only avenue for a potential appeal.
The ruling comes soon after another major gay-rights ruling in 2017, thereby giving momentum to the argument that anti-gay discrimination is prohibited even without a federal law that explicitly says so.
[T]he court pointed out that anti-gay discrimination would not exist "but for" a person's sex. That is to say, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals would not experience this type of unequal treatment had they been born a different gender, or were attracted to a different sex.
"A woman who is subject to an adverse employment action because she is attracted to women would have been treated differently if she had been a man who was attracted to women," the majority wrote in an opinion led by Judge Robert Katzmann. "We can therefore conclude that sexual orientation is a function of sex and, by extension, sexual orientation discrimination is a subset of sex discrimination."
Zarda’s lawyers deployed an emerging legal argument that contends Title VII applies to gay workers.
That position has been adopted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a largely autonomous federal agency that handles civil rights disputes in the workplace and supported Zarda in court.
An EEOC lawyer told the judges at a September hearing in Manhattan, “Sex stereotyping says that if you are a man attracted to a man, or a woman attracted to a woman, you’re not behaving the way those genders are supposed to behave.”
But the Justice Department took opposite stance, thereby pitting the federal government against itself.
Under Sessions, the Justice Department has tried to roll back several LGBT gains, rescinding Obama-era policy that protects transgender students and reversing a policy that said Title VII protects transgender workers. Sessions also filed a brief at the Supreme Court in favor of a Christian baker who refused a wedding cake to a gay couple, and in Zarda’s case, argued Title VII also doesn’t encompass sexual orientation.
On Monday, the 2nd Circuit found "sexual orientation is doubly delineated by sex because it is a function of both a person’s sex and the sex of those to whom he or she is attracted. Logically, because sexual orientation is a function of sex and sex is a protected characteristic under Title VII, it follows that sexual orientation is also protected."