A Big Victory for LGBT People, and a Big Loss for the Trump Administration

The federal appeals court in New York today issued a victory for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, ruling that workers can’t be fired based on their sexual orientation and rebuffing the Trump administration’s insistence that they can.

That might sound like common sense, but in two decisions from the 2000s, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit wrongly concluded that discriminating against gay people isn’t prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal law that bans sex discrimination in the workplace. Last spring, the court agreed to take a fresh look at the question following a landmark decision by the federal appeals court in Chicago recognizing that discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal sex discrimination.

As the court today rightly noted, there is no way to separate discrimination based on sexual orientation from discrimination based on sex. That’s because, to “identify the sexual orientation of a particular person, we need to know the sex of the person and that of the people to whom he or she is attracted.” The court noted the futility of trying to parse the evidence in such cases, as illustrated by judges tallying up “epithets such as ‘ass wipe,’ ‘fag,’ ‘gay,’ ‘queer,’ ‘real man,’ and ‘fem’ to determine whether discrimination is based on sex or sexual orientation.” As the decision acknowledged, such “lexical bean counting” is absurd and unwarranted, because discrimination against gay people is based on both.

In rejecting efforts to artificially limit the scope of sex discrimination to exclude lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, the Second Circuit noted important historical parallels that the ACLU raised in its amicus brief. It would be unthinkable today, for example, to say that sexual harassment is perfectly lawful under federal law. But courts did not always understand it to be sex discrimination, initially dismissing sexual harassment claims out of hand in the 1970s, and recognizing such conduct as unlawful only after a Supreme Court ruling in 1986. So, too, courts that once discounted sexual orientation discrimination claims now recognize it to be not only wrong, but illegal.

The Second Circuit’s opinion is an important victory for LGBT people. It’s also a big defeat for the Trump administration, which stepped in gratuitously to tell the court that employers should be free to fire LGBT people under federal law. That move was disappointing, but perhaps not surprising, given the administration’s efforts to embolden discrimination against LGBT people at work, at school, and in daily life. President Trump may be a bully, but he doesn’t get the last word on LGBT people’s rights.

Add a comment (13)
Read the Terms of Use


Separatism and Tribalism - which feeds hate groups - is simply bad for our country. Having Americans this divided against one another makes us weaker competing against other nations also. America is great because we are so different!

The Founder of the Republican Party once warned that "a house divided against itself cannot stand" - maybe today's GOP leaders should start leading and uniting the Party of Lincoln!


Sadly, this is the reality of American politics. The government serves us our presidential candidates, which we feel we are inclined to vote for, most recently Trump and Hillary (both parties could afford to go pretty low because of this horrible flaw). we need to stop drinking the poison that is being placed in front of us. Blacks were kept from going to the same schools as whites by our government as recently as the 1950's, you really think American rights are all fine and dandy by now? The two party system feeds off of this divide (Both sides) in the interest of preserving political careers and ultimately, the preservation of an unreachable legislation for the average american like you or me. 1% of the entire country owns more than HALF the nations wealth, there is a lot at stake to protect for those who need multiple houses and don't pay taxes. Meanwhile, the prison system population has DOUBLED since 1985. The more "criminals" in jail, the more money that has to be spent to keep them locked up in a secure facility. Where does this TAX PAYER money go you might ask? Directly to PRIVATE security contractors who's profit relies on keeping poor Americans in jail. The next time you make the unethical decision to turn on the TV and watch cable "news", remember its not because they care about the best interest of the people, the people behind this pseudo journalism DON'T EVEN KNOW (CNN) THAT YOU EXIST AND THEY DON'T CARE (FOX) ABOUT YOU.


Im dumbfounded by the incredible experience of being apart history . my name is Kim, I'm not sure but, I thought this was a free country. That because I was born in the USA-I had the constitution and its amendments to govern my life, but most impotently they were also the guidelines for all Americans to abide & respect. Im dumbfoundedt that the leader of the
" Free World " who is sworn to protect the constitution is ACTING TREASONOUS . DONALD TRUMP IS ASELF SERVIING GROTESQUE PIG and he's wasting the freedoms of each and everyone of us.
I am Transgender and a true patriot. Why cant he be stopped frim destroying the constitution???????? Im dumbfounded.


What does this have to do with Trump? The article states that the court decisions were made in the early 2000's. What freedoms have YOU lost?


The headline is wrong. It's a big victory for LGB people, but you shouldn't include the T when the ruling does nothing to help transgender people who are still very much at Royal for being fired for who they are.


Great point! The LGBT label is sloppily thrown around


Exactly. - Trans in Tx


LGBTQ+ is an umbrella term for everyone in the community

Dr. Timothy Leary

The A.C.L.U. has censored my comments again even though I used acceptable medical terms for the body parts involved.


THE A.C.L.U censors any view they do not agree with. They do not believe in free speech.


Stay Informed