In this case, several plaintiffs who were fired after their employers learned of their membership in the LGBTQ+ community claimed they had been subjected to discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (2 U.S.C. § 2000e–2(a)). The conflict centered around the language of Title VII of the Act, which makes it “unlawful...for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual...because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." Specifically, the Court was asked to rule on whether the "sex" component of Title VII protected people who were discriminated against by their employer due to their "homosexuality or transgender status." In a majority opinion written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the Supreme Court determined that Title VII did, stating: "The answer is clear. An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids."
This case centered around a bakery owner refusing to create a cake for a gay couple's wedding reception, due to "his religious opposition to same-sex marriages." The owner was found to have violated Colorado's Anti-Discrimination Act by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (CCRC). As described by Oyez.com, the Supreme Court held that "the Colorado Civil Rights Commission's conduct in evaluating a cake shop owner's reasons for declining to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple violated the Free Exercise Clause," and overturned the CCRC's ruling. The Court stated that under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the CCRC was required to be "neutral toward and tolerant of" the cake shop owner’s religious beliefs, and did not meet all of the "governmental neutrality" factors.
In this video, Jim Obergefell and Debbie Cenziper discuss their new book, "Love Wins." Obergefell was the named plaintiff in Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 landmark marriage equality ruling that the Supreme Court issued just a year prior. The opinion in the Obergefell case can be found on the Supreme Court website.
In this agency decision, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) held for the first time that someone's claim of employment discrimination based on their gender identity or transgender status is cognizable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Ms. Macy was represented by attorneys from the Transgender Law Center, which is mentioned in the "Online Resources" section of this guide.
As described by the ACLU, "[o]n September 19, 2008, a federal district judge ruled that the Library of Congress illegally discriminated against Schroer, in a groundbreaking decision that found that discriminating against someone for changing genders is sex discrimination under federal law."
This case overturned two men's convictions for "deviate sexual intercourse, namely anal sex, with a member of the same sex (man)," finding that such laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Justice Kennedy stated in the opinion, "The State cannot demean [Lawrence and Garner's] existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime. Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government....The Texas statute furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual." This case overruled a prior U.S. Supreme Court case, Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986).
In this decision by the Nebraska Supreme Court, Richardson County Sheriff Charles B. Laux was found liable for his abusive conduct toward, and "fail[ure] to protect," a transgender man, Brandon Teena, who was ultimately murdered.
Derek Henkle sued his school district under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.), claiming that it was liable for failing to protect him against discrimination "on the basis of sex," as school administrators and resource officers did not defend him as his fellow students "harassed and intimidated him during school hours and on school property" for being "out" as a gay person.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down an amendment to the Colorado State Constitution ("Amendment 2"), which would not allow any statute, regulation, or executive action that would protect "homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual orientation, conduct, practices or relationships," finding that it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Court ruled, in an opinion drafted by Justice Kennedy, that Amendment 2 "is a status-based enactment divorced from any factual context from which we could discern a relationship to legitimate state interests; it is a classification of persons undertaken for its own sake, something the Equal Protection Clause does not permit. '[C]lass legislation . . . [is] obnoxious to the prohibitions of the Fourteenth Amendment . . . .' Civil Rights Cases, 109 U. S., at 24."
While the decision itself is not self-explanatory, this was the first U.S. Supreme Court ruling to deal with homosexuality and to address free speech rights with respect to homosexuality. The Supreme Court held that writings that supported a homosexual lifestyle were not inherently "obscene," and thus could be protected speech under the First Amendment. The decision in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which was overturned by the Supreme Court, is One, Inc. v. Olesen, 241 F.2d 772 (1957) External.