Supreme Court begins new term with cases on abortion, LGBT rights, immigration


Mr Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in all four of the court's major decisions protecting LGBT rights, including the 2015 ruling that made same-sex marriage a legal right across the US.

A seemingly divided Supreme Court struggled Tuesday over whether a landmark civil rights law protects LGBT people from discrimination in employment.

"We all deserve to be safe at work and know that we will not be targeted or discriminated against simply because of who we are". And she urged, "Every single one of you out there can stand up and make a difference".

For numerous hundreds of LGBT activists demonstrating outside the U.S. Supreme Court during arguments in major cases on gay and transgender rights, the story being told inside about plaintiffs Gerald Bostock and Aimee Stephens sounded all too familiar. In one case that was decided in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals previous year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the agency that administers and enforces civil rights laws against workplace discrimination) argued that Title VII covered sexual orientation, while the U.S. Department of Justice contended that it provided no such protection.

Cox added that when "our government sanctions discrimination against us, it's giving everyone in the country also permission to discriminate against us". In recent years, some courts have read that language to include discrimination against LGBT people as a subset of sex discrimination. "So everyone should be aware of that and presidential candidates should be talking about that".

Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump's first Supreme Court appointee, said there are strong arguments favoring the LGBT workers.

Zarda died in a skydiving mishap in 2014, but his sister is fighting the case on behalf of his estate against his former employer. Gerald Bostock says he was sacked from his job in child welfare services when his employer found out he was gay.

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And that brings us to Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, SCOTUS' first trans rights case. Sign up here for Yahoo Entertainment & Lifestyle's newsletter.

Reflecting that reality, the Supreme Court has held that the ban on sex discrimination in the workplace covers sexual harassment, including same-sex harassment, as well as discrimination based on a person's failure to conform to gender stereotypes.

At the front of these cases is Gerald Bostock, who, for 10 years, was the child-welfare coordinator for Clayton County, Ga.

In short, LGBT+ Americans could soon find themselves living in a nation where it is legal for them to be denied a job, fired, discriminated against at school, denied a loan, rejected by a doctor and evicted from an apartment, simply due to their sexuality. So the abortion providers asked the Supreme Court to step in and block the law temporarily to give them time to appeal. The law prohibits discrimination because of sex, but has no specific protection for sexual orientation or gender identity.

The second case will examine whether transgender individuals are protected under the law. All eyes will be on the court's five conservative justices in their first full term together. The common thread? These individuals were fired because their employers did not want women or men "like that" in their workplaces.

California and 21 other states forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation, and several other states have such protections for public employees.

So far, most federal appeals courts in the United States have interpreted the law to exclude discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.