Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) made a landmark decision in support of LGBTQ community. In a 6 – 3 decision, judges voted to protect LGBTQ+ rights in the workplace, deciding that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act applied to LGBTQ+ individuals. Basically, it means that employers can no longer legally discriminate against someone for their sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s a big f-cking deal!
This is obviously cause for enormous celebration. And many LGBTQ+ celebrities and their allies celebrated the victory over social media.
Fuck yes Supreme Court ðŸ³ï¸â€ðŸŒˆðŸ˜— Jonathan Van Ness (@jvn) June 15, 2020
The world is only getting browner and gayer, so you better hop aboard, or youâ€™re going to miss the bus. Even a conservative Supreme Court got on the bus. What a great day for America. Woo hoo!!!— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) June 15, 2020
Hey Brett Kavanaugh - fuck you.— Andy Cohen (@Andy) June 15, 2020
Brett Kavanaugh was one of the three judges to dissent the decision. Remember when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford calmly delivered her testimony even though she was describing her assault while Brett Kavanaugh cried like a baby? Yeah, f-ck him.
Ellen, who wants to do better, celebrated with a one-word tweet.
Historic.ðŸŒˆ https://t.co/YwHX7iW1NF— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) June 15, 2020
Even Taylor Swift chimed in, adding an important note.
YES!! Thank you to the Supreme Court Justices who voted in favor and all the advocates who have fought so hard for this! We still have a long way to go to reach equality, but this is a beautiful step forward. ðŸŒˆâ¤ï¸ðŸ§¡ðŸ’›ðŸ’šðŸ’™ðŸ’œðŸŒˆ https://t.co/zTd3i5P2TL— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) June 15, 2020
I don’t always agree with Taylor, but she really hits it the mark. That last line is especially important. Because you’ll notice, the posts by several trans celebrities of colour sound a little different from the others. Many, like Janet Mock, have pointed out the important people who made this happen, and others have warned that the fight is not over.
A victory hard won in the courts & on the streets. Grateful to the lawyers, organizers & activists but most grateful to those who had to live stealth or closeted, who lost jobs for living their truth, who left parts of themselves at their employers door. https://t.co/4aaSZBOlbz— Janet Mock (@janetmock) June 15, 2020
So Many attacks ( removals/ restrictions or revocations )on our lgbt rights ( existence) that this ruling is a major victory toward full protection. The fight continues tomorrow #wearehere #WeAreHereWeAreLGBTQ pic.twitter.com/NIguTnofho— Miss Peppermint. BLACK TRANS LIVES MATTER (@Peppermint247) June 15, 2020
Peppermint also pointed out issues with the way the news was being covered.
Major mainstream news reporters:— Miss Peppermint. BLACK TRANS LIVES MATTER (@Peppermint247) June 16, 2020
Do better. Not one paper, quoted, included or mentioned a single trans person.Yesterday's decision was historic not ONLY for WHAT was decided but also that TRANSGENDER LAWYERS wrote the brief (argument) & trans folks were sitting in the court! https://t.co/aXhlzcg9Qe
Because as much as this is a victory, it comes just on the heels of a White House announcement that rolled back healthcare protections for trans people and after JK Rowling, one of the world’s most popular authors defended her transphobic beliefs.
As Laverne Cox put it so succinctly in an interview:
“Just because public policy changes it does not mean that the hearts and minds of Americans change.”
Yesterday’s decision was actually the result of three separate cases: Bostock v. Clayton County, Altitude Epress, Inc. v. Zarda, and R.G. & G.R Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Gerald Bostock and Donald Zarda were gay men who were fired for being open about their sexuality. In 2013, Bostock was fired for promoting a gay softball league, and in 2010, Zarda was fired for telling a female customer that he was gay to make her more comfortable while assisting her in a skydive. Aimee Stephens, the trans woman who was the plaintiff in the third case, was fired in 2013 for trying to work as her authentic self at her job in a funeral home.
Aimee Stephens passed away in May, just before she could see the result of her case. Donald Zarda passed away in 2014 before he could see the result of his case. It has taken upwards of seven years for these cases to be resolved, and while it’s unbelievably encouraging that we’ve gotten here, especially with such a conservative SCOTUS, it points to how much work LGBTQ+ people must put in, and how much pain and hardship they have to suffer to get here.
The 1964 Civil Rights Act was introduced by John F. Kennedy. However, the Birmingham riots and protests in 1963 are largely believed to be one of the main reasons why Kennedy decided to introduce the act to Congress. In 1963, Black civil rights leaders in Birmingham, Alabama were targeted in a series of bombings. This occurred because these leaders were organizing sit-ins, marches, and boycotts to protest segregation laws in the city. Often, their peaceful demonstrations were met with violent attacks using firehoses and police dogs. After the bombings, subsequent protests and riots expressed outrage, both at the targeted attacks and at police brutality towards peaceful protestors.
Today, that very act is what has protected the civil liberties of LGBTQ+ people. But to even get to that point, people, especially Black people, had to protest and fight for their rights. Tony McDade, Riah Milton, and Dominique Fells are just three of the Black, trans people who have lost their lives in the past three weeks. And while we celebrate this momentous legislative victory, we must also remember that there is so much more work to be done to effect lasting, transformative change.