On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a landmark decision affirming the rights of LGBTQ+ workers to be free from discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In a 6-3 majority opinion, authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the court held unambiguously that “an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.”
In October 2019, the court heard oral arguments in three cases: Altitude Express v. Zarda, Bostock v. Clayton County, GA, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC and Aimee Stephens. Each asked the same question: are LGBTQ+ employees protected from workplace discrimination under Title VII?
Dan Zarda and Gerald Bostock were both fired after their employers learned of their sexual orientation. Aimee Stephens was fired after her employer learned of her gender identity. These decisions were based on sex stereotyping, including beliefs about who someone “should” be attracted to because of their sex and the relationship between someone’s gender identity and the sex they were assigned at birth.
Too often employers overstep the boundaries of personal religious freedom – the right to believe as we choose – to impose their beliefs on others through staffing decisions. Turning away job applicants or firing employees because of who they are isn’t religious freedom – it’s discrimination.
Religious freedom doesn’t include a license to discriminate.
We recognize that individual faith traditions approach LGBTQ+ identities differently. The First Amendment protects these communities from government interference in their religious doctrines. But we count on our elected representatives and judges to ensure that each of us is treated with dignity and respect within the public sphere.
“Friends of the Court”
We joined interfaith allies and more than 700 individual clergy and faith leaders in an amicus brief urging the Court to affirm that it is morally wrong and constitutionally prohibited to engage in anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination based on employers’ religious beliefs.
Interfaith Alliance was among the first faith-based organizations to shift the perspective on LGBTQ+ equality from challenge to solution, from a scriptural argument to a religious freedom agreement. Today, we are at the forefront of the fight for equality.