Jeff Sessions Thinks It Should Be Legal to Fire You for Being LGBT

In the latest and most significant anti-LGBT action yet from the Trump administration, the Justice Department last night filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit arguing that federal civil rights laws do not protect individuals from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The case in question concerns a former skydiving instructor who filed a lawsuit against his employer in 2010, alleging that the company terminated him because of his sexual orientation.

This appalling brief from the Jeff Sessions-led Justice Department comes as the Second Circuit is preparing to hear arguments about whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of sex, also prohibits discrimination against lesbians, gay men, and bisexual people — a position supported by, among many others, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

In April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which is based in Chicago, considered the same question. They ultimately ruled that discrimination against a person based on their sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination that is prohibited under Title VII. In writing for the court, Chief Judge Diane P. Wood noted that, “It would require considerable calisthenics to remove the ‘sex’ from ‘sexual orientation.’”[RK1]

And yet these kinds of legal gymnastics are now exactly what the Justice Department is attempting to do.

“It would require considerable calisthenics to remove the ‘sex’ from ‘sexual orientation.’”

As if the Trump administration’s legal arguments in this case weren’t galling enough on their own, the fact that they are even weighing in at all in this case is noteworthy for how outrageous it is. The United States is not a party to the case, thus the administration cannot argue that its hand was forced. No, this is nothing more than a shameful effort on the part of a very anti-LGBT attorney general to advance discriminatory legal arguments. The question of whether Title VII prohibits gender identity-based discrimination — a position well-supported in case law — isn’t even before the court in this case. Rather, this case addresses the question of whether the federal law that prohibits employment discrimination based on sex also bars discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation.

It is disgraceful that the Trump administration is working affirmatively to expose LGBT people to discrimination. Fortunately, the question of whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBT people is ultimately a question for the courts to resolve, not Attorney General Sessions.

So while the Justice Department abdicates their responsibility to fight for and uphold our civil rights, we will continue to push forward. 

The ACLU is confident that the law is in our side and that the courts will come to the right decision, just as the Seventh Circuit already has. And we’re prepared to continue this fight to make clear that discrimination against LGBT people is just another form of sex discrimination that is prohibited under federal civil rights laws.

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Aunt Sue

If someone is falsely targeted as being anti LGBTQ....they just need a sign, or little PR that says "all are welcome here"..... no worries !

Anonymous

Actually, bigotry is not protected by civil rights law. A woman was fired by the PR firm she worked for just recently because her anti-Muslim rant against 4 women was posted online.

David Wright

Sessions is further proof that Hookworm is still a problem in the South.

mazigoo

Or maybe he has heartworms.

Michelle McHugh

Good to see the Trump admin applying equal discrimination to GLBT'ers. First no TG's can serve due to disruption? (although thousands have). Now You can fire a gay bi les trans persons at will. Which one is Will? Dump Trump. Lets be clear. Dump Trump. He is bad for America. This guy is worse than many dicktators. He wants to run America like a business, but it is not a business. We are human not widget.

Anonymous

I hope you never criticize Trump for being incoherent because that would be very hypocritical of you.

Anonymous

What I can't get my head around is that ....these so call legal people that surround Twitter Twit Trump do not seem to understand what the meaning of EQUALITY FOR ALL is......if they pay their taxes then how can they justify passung laws to allow discrimination.perhaps it is about time that churches should be made to paying taxes . I also think Sessions , who displays,so much hate against the LGBTQ+ community smells his own tail.

Tom Tilley

There must be due process in all dismissals. What is the reason for the dismissal?What infraction occurred? Doesn't The 14th amendment also protect them? I would like Jeff Session to explain the cause for dismissal.

Barbara

Actually Tom this is sadly not the case... there hasn't been anything like "due process in all dismissals" in an increasing number of states for going on 20 years. It's a legal loophole called "at-will employment," and it allows employers to dismiss anyone, at any time, for any reason (or no reason at all). Those using this mechanism claim it protects employees equally, because they have the right to quit for any reason... this is of course laughable because employees are now routinely required to sign draconian non-compete clauses and are often required to repay the costs spent training them for their positions if they quit before a certain date or walk off the job for a legitimate reason or simply abandon their jobs (no call/no show). In some states the employer is still required to pay unemployment benefits if the dismissal wasn't for "gross misconduct" but I have seen some pretty hilarious claims by employers as I what constituted gross misconduct (usually reserved for things like a major policy violation that resulted in loss or injury to a co-worker or customer, an intentional act that damaged the company's reputation or lost a client, etc., but I worked for a casino once that claimed that dropping a card on the floor was GM, because they had fired me for something else that unquestionably entitled me to collect unemployment but were in the habit of challenging all claims no matter what; I heard that my case was one of the last they did that on because they got threatened with a stiff fine if they continued to abuse the process).

The 14th Anendment's "Equal Protection" clause, as it's affectionately known, SHOULD be a blanket of protection for ALL individuals against those who act against them because of their race, creed, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, military status, disability, age, and so on, with very narrow exceptions allowed for instances where it is physically impossible for the individual to do a job, even with a reasonable accommodation or in cases where there is a statutory minimum set on the age to vote, drive, enter into legal contracts, et cetera. Because we are a diverse society, "sincere religious belief" is abused more and more often in cases where a person is defending their own bigoted behavior and resisting the forward march of civil rights with every tool possible and religion is merely a convenient excuse... psychotics who honestly believe that their consumption of human flesh is divinely ordained are put into hospitals and medicated if they aren't in death penalty states, for example, so "sincere belief" needs to be called out for what it is... individual choice. The problem that we have today is with a populace that appears willing to allow the definitions of "truth" and "facts" to become meaningless; the phrase du jour seems to be "we'll have to agree to disagree" even when it's clear that only one party's "truth" can be correct... listening to cable news, it's shocking how grievously the American people are being deliberately misled and manipulated and watching them actively participate in their own brainwashing is heartbreaking. Think tanks come up with innocent-sounding language that changes the actual structure of our brains over time as it's repeated and comes to replace the original definitions of words that were once taken for granted to mean the same thing to everyone. It's about so much more than bigots, sadly, as the groups who are being targeted are merely tools to get people fighting against one another while the manipulators loot the country and change other rules that don't raise alarm in the way "social issues" so easily do. I'm starting to think that whenever one of these cases erupts, we should look where our attention is NOT being drawn, because they are taking advantage of the public's inability to focus in multiple directions...

Follow. The. Money.

Remix2Cognition

ACLU,

You stated this was a matter of civil rights. When protected classes only protect a certain few characteristics and therefore allow discrimination against a magnitude of other characteristics, can you please explain how one is being denied a CIVIL RIGHT by being discriminated against in employment or public accommodation?

Also, can you further explain why you believe sexual orientation, a physical attraction to another, should fall under the same word as sex, a grouping based on reproductive organs? Or how do you define the word sex?

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