21st Century … or Dark Ages???

“It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer … to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

— Title VII, Civil Rights Act of 1964

There has been considerable debate about whether Title VII extends protections against discrimination to the LGBT community, and at present, it varies by state and locality, despite the fact that the entire Civil Rights Act is a federal law.  At this time, only 21 states have outlawed discrimination against members of the LGBT community.  A bill, the Equality Act,  was introduced into the House of Representatives in March of this year by Representative David Cicilline. The bill has passed in the House and is now languishing in the Senate committee, but the odds of it becoming the law of the land seem slim at the moment, given the makeup of the current Senate, and the fact that Donald Trump spoke against it after right-wing religious organizations urged the White House to issue an opposition statement to the bill.

There are currently three cases on the docket of the U.S. Supreme Court that will be heard on October 8th.  Briefly …

Zarda v Altitude Express:  Donald Zarda was fired from Altitude Express, where he worked as a skydiver. He informed a woman he was gay while they were strapped to each other because he thought it would make her feel more comfortable. She later informed his employer that she wasn’t happy with his sharing his being gay and he was subsequently fired. Zarda died in 2014 but his estate pursued the case.

Bostock v Clayton County:  Gerald Bostock, a child welfare services coordinator, was in a gay recreational softball league. He said his participation in the league and his sexual orientation became a problem with someone at work. Then he was fired for “conduct unbecoming of a county employee,” which he said was tied to his sexuality.

Harris Funeral Homes v EEOC:  Aimee Stephens, a trans woman, was fired from her job at a funeral parlor after she informed the funeral director she worked for that she was transgender. She had worked in funeral services for nearly 20 years and received positive feedback from her employer.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in all three cases on the same day, and according to Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, senior attorney at Lambda Legal, a civil rights organization focused on LGBTQ people …

“This is a momentous occasion. It is a pivotal moment and the public should be paying attention.  These cases will affect the ability of LGBTQ people to be full members of society and to contribute to society by entering the workplace and be free of discrimination.”

Meanwhile, the United States Justice Department under Trump’s hand-picked Attorney General William Barr sent a brief to the Supreme Court two days ago stating that they should find in favour of the employer in the Harris Funeral Homes case, arguing that …

“In 1964, the ordinary public meaning of ‘sex’ was biological sex. It did not encompass transgender status. In the particular context of Title VII — legislation originally designed to eliminate employment discrimination against racial and other minorities — it was especially clear that the prohibition on discrimination because of ‘sex’ referred to unequal treatment of men and women in the workplace.”

Since when is it right and proper for the Department of Justice to tell the Supreme Court how to rule???  The Judiciary is an independent branch that is intended to be apolitical, not influenced by partisan politics.  However, the reality does not always match the intent.  Today, there are 5 justices who lean toward conservative opinions, 4 who are more liberal.  Chief Justice John Roberts is typically the more moderate of the conservative-leaning justices, often casting the deciding vote.  It is likely to come down to his single vote, and there are serious concerns, for he wrote a dissenting opinion in the 2014 case of Obergefell v Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage at the federal level.  And lately he has disappointed us a few times, such as his vote to give state lawmakers virtually unlimited authority to draw district lines (gerrymandering) once every 10 years, pick their voters and entrench their political power.

This is the 21st century, not the Dark Ages.  It is time we learn to accept people … ALL people … for who they are.  If the employers in these three cases are allowed to prevail, it will indeed be a dark day in the United States, and no doubt it will then be only a matter of time until we see cases coming before the court dealing with discrimination in housing, in education, in every aspect of life.  I’m convinced that it is only a matter of time until a case comes before the Supreme Court that challenges Obergefell v Hodges.  And then what?  If we strip the LGBT community of their rights, will we soon see cases attempting to strip African-Americans of their rights by challenging other aspects of the Civil Rights Act, or of the Voting Rights Act?

Keep your eyes on this one, folks, for how these three cases are decided will be the best indicator yet whether or not there is still “liberty and justice for all” in this nation.

33 thoughts on “21st Century … or Dark Ages???

  1. Jill, setting the law aside, let me state an obvious premise. Companies that tolerate treating people poorly for any reason are employers that have a hard time keeping me in competitive markets. Employees see how the company management acts. If they fire people and make them do a walk of shame, people notice as they are thinking “that could be me.”

    If a company tolerates employees who berate or denigrate someone who is different from them, they are sending a message. If they perpetuate an old boy’s club environment, women notice and leave, if they have options. The trouble in some communities is they may not have as many options. This comes up in harassment situations whether it is sexual, power, or the boss is an equal opportunity asshole (sorry for the bad word, but it fit better).

    Employees should speak out when they see poor behavior from a manager. This is a nice way to say we have a US leader who needs to be pushed back on by other leaders. When they don’t, they are saying it is alright to bully. denigrate, and harass people. Let me say this in caps – IT IS NOT ALRIGHT REGARDLESS OF THE LAW.

    Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are right on all counts, my friend. For many years I have boycotted Hobby Lobby and Chik-Fil-A for their bigotry toward their employees. No, it is not alright … never has been, never will be. I’ve found, since Trump came onto the scene in 2015 with his rhetoric against Hispanics and Muslims, that friends who I’ve known forever, thought were good people, thought I knew them … have proven themselves to be bigots in one form or fashion. Goes to show that apart from a few close relationships, we never know people. I’m very discouraged seeing the level of racism, homophobia and misogyny in this country today … I thought we had learned.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Jill. The evangelicals have pushed all of this and in tRump they found a dupe willing to let them do it. For years they have tried hard to get themselves on everything from local school boards all the way up to the federal congress. I remember years ago a candidate for local office denied she was doing it to push her religious views even though her campaign was entirely funded by her church. Yes the big business are protecting the LGBTQ communites becasue they need the workers and also they desire the customer base that the LGBTQ provides. However smaller business and local officials are more likely to be involved with the religious community. I can not prove it but I think the evangelicals pushing this feel a need to control and feel superior to others including their own fellow church members. I am really worried about how easy it is for some people to not see other humans as people. I do not understand how they can claim to love others and then mistreat them / deny them food, services, housing, work and other basic needs to live. Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

    • I fully agree with you … I’ve been pondering all day today … well, for a couple of days now … about what it is that makes some people feel superior to others based on skin colour, gender identity, religion or whatever. I just cannot understand the arrogance. What I have concluded, though, is that it’s never going to change. There has been such bigotry throughout history, and if we haven’t learned yet to stop judging people, then I don’t see that we ever will. Sigh. Makes me not proud to be of the human race, y’know? Anyway … BIG hugs to you!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I cannot say it any better than the Democratic U.S. Representative in Congress from New York : “Too small is our world to allow discrimination, bigotry and intolerance to thrive in any corner of it, let alone in the United States of America.” – Eliot Engel. Thank-you!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. The courts, the courts, the courts! Jill, R’s have recognized this part of our government as central to their survival. And look at the results. This Party, in my view, is slowly but surely fading into oblivion as it now is constituted. But with Trump and McConnell installing right wing hacks at break-neck pace, they live on for another day. Once again, Dems are so far behind here. Maybe Roberts saves the day on this issue. Maybe not. Sigh!

    Liked by 3 people

    • The GOP has certainly morphed into something other than what it was even ten short years ago. In other words, pre-Obama! Never let anyone tell you this isn’t a racist nation. Sigh. I like to think that the courts will remain independent despite Trump’s coercion, but I’ve come to realize that is a naive way of thinking. I don’t have much confidence that Justice Roberts will do the right thing … I wish I did. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. I cannot remember. Are openly gay people or transgender people still allowed in your military? If the above cases are ruled against, then the military will be able to refuse non-heteros to fight. Another nail in the coffin of freedom…

    Liked by 3 people

    • The Supreme Court allowed Trump’s ban on transgender people to be implemented in April of this year. As far as gays go, it’s pretty much a return to the old days of “Don’t ask, don’t tell”, though thus far there isn’t any rule about it. Doesn’t mean there won’t be somewhere down the line, and in fact I’m surprised he hasn’t tried that already. Yep, another step backward, another chunk taken away from civil rights. They keep chipping away … one morning we will wake to find that ours is an autocracy and that we have no voice.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s funny, but most all of the large employers already protect the rights of LGBT, women, minorities and others without being told to. It’s the small employers that seem to have a bee up their backside and think it’s okay to discriminate against people who may not be clones of themselves.
      Cwtch

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Hi Jill,
    I have been feeling very gloomy lately. I see dark forces taking over in so many areas that I have to limit my time in reading about them all. I felt quite apocalyptic last night as I saw nothing but a lot of signs that our world is falling apart spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally… These three cases encompass all of these basics of our life. Watching them is not just about liberty and law, it is about the nature of life itself and how we constantly refute it and destroy it. I (like Dr. Rex) am very worried. 😬😩

    Liked by 3 people

    • I know just how you feel, for I’ve been in that dark place as well, what I refer to as being “in the rabbit hole”, but I guess this blog is my outlet for my frustrations. It forces me to focus on facts rather than simply emotion. The world does seem to be spinning out of control, but … there are still signs of hope. If we lose hope, we might just as well jump off a cliff, so try to hang on to some bit of hope, okay? Hugs!!!

      Liked by 3 people

      • I went for a long walk today in a woodland project (rebuilding forests in the Heart of England) and I loved its serenity. But, no birds to be seen!! Wildlife is disappearing in the UK at an alarming rate and no one by is noticing.

        I am writing this while listening to a track with wolves howling and native people chanting…

        All their warnings coming true… And we cannot eat money.

        I am fast losing hope I am afraid. I am making my peace with the world. I have so little fight left. Hugs my friend. 🤗

        Liked by 2 people

        • I am noticing the same here. Squirrels, geese, ducks … all used to be in abundance in this area, but I haven’t seen any this summer so far. And bees … not nearly as many bees the past few years. Some days I feel that I have run out of fight, that it has worn me down. It usually only lasts a day before I get my mojo back, but today has been one of those days. Hugs to you, Colette! I wish I had encouraging words for you, but I don’t … not today, anyway.

          Liked by 2 people

  7. What can I say? We know who wants to take us back to pre-1964 and we know why. The coalition of extreme evangelicalism, white nationalism, Nazi terrorism, and utter stupidity cannot overcome PRIDE! We will prevail.😊🏳‍🌈

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yep, as I just said to Horty, I am not proud of what this nation is becoming, and not at all pleased by the people who are making it this way. Sigh. I think it is the bigots who need “conversion therapy” to teach them about love, compassion and humanity!

      Liked by 4 people

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