When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that LGBTQ+ employees could not be discriminated against because of their gender identity or sexual preference, we all believed that the victory was plain and simple.
However, experts say Justice Neil Gorsuch’s “textualist” decision could have “broader implications.
As NBC explained, the landmark ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, is likely to have broad ramifications that “go far beyond labor protections.”
For Kristen Browde, co-chair of the National Association of Trans Lawyers and Democratic candidate for the New York State Assembly, “This ruling is every bit as significant, if not more so, than the marriage equality decision.
Bostock’s ruling covers three LGBTQ+ unemployment cases, including two related to sexual orientation and one focusing on gender identity.
“In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee’s sex when deciding to fire that employee,” the ruling, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, an appointee of President Donald Trump, stated. “We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.”
For Anthony Kreis, an associate professor at the Georgia State College of Law, the opinion, while a “total victory” for the LGBTQ community, is also “direct.”
“There is no hedging,” he said of the ruling. “What constitutes sex discrimination is now an open and shut case.”
Kreis noted that the sexual orientation and gender identity cases could have been decided separately, but in writing a single opinion the Supreme Court treated the LGBTQ community as a cohesive entity, with the rights of gay and transgender people “bound together in a way they have not been formally bound,” NBC quoted.
Jennifer Levi, an attorney with GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, or GLAD, said the Bostock ruling — the first high court decision to deal directly with transgender rights — will have “broad implications” that will have an impact on “housing, education, credit, health care and beyond that as well.”
Justice Samuel Alito, whose dissent in the Bostock case ran more than 100 pages, also agreed with Levi.
“What the Court has done today — interpreting discrimination because of ‘sex’ to encompass discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity — is virtually certain to have far-reaching consequences,” he wrote. “Over 100 federal statutes prohibit discrimination because of sex.”
The “potential consequences” of the “radical decision,” according to Alito, include “women who have been victimized by sexual assault …seeing an unclothed person with the anatomy of a male” in a bathroom and subsequently suffering “serious psychological harm,” as well as a religious school having to employ a teacher who is in a same-sex relationship or who has undergone sex reassignment surgery.
With information from NBC News.