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The Trump administration said it’s legal to fire someone for being gay. Now Republicans are backing it en masse

Nick Duffy August 28, 2019
Republicans in Congress and 15 states have joined the Trump administration's argument that discrimination against LGBT+ people is legal

Republicans in Congress and 15 states have joined the Trump administration's argument that discrimination against LGBT+ people is legal (Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Fifteen Republican-controlled states and 48 Congressional Republicans have joined the Trump administration in filing Supreme Court briefs arguing that it’s legal for employers to discriminate against LGBT+ people.

The US Supreme Court is set to consider the cases of three people who were fired for being LGBT+, with justices expected to rule on whether employers acted illegally under sex-based civil rights laws.

Discriminating against gay people is ‘not inherently sexist’, states claim

A brief filed by 15 GOP-controlled states on August 23 repeats the Trump administration’s argument that employment discrimination against LGBT+ people is legal.

It asserts the 1968 Civil Rights Act provisions prohibiting discrimination based on sex refers to “biological status [of] male or female, not sexual orientation or gender identity”.

The brief claims that “discrimination based on sexual orientation… is not inherently sexist”.

The intervention from Republicans contrasts with a brief filed by 21 Democratic-controlled states, which urged the court to “maintain nationwide protections for employees based on sexual orientation and transgender status”.

Republicans are urging the Supreme Court to find that discrimination is legal
Republicans in 15 states joined the anti-LGBT brief, while 21 Democratic states filed a pro-LGBT argument

The pro-LGBT+ brief warned that “rolling back Title VII protections for LGBT+  individuals not covered by state laws would leave these individuals exposed to discrimination”.

Civil rights laws ‘not intended to protect’ LGBT+ people.

Meanwhile, 48 Republican congresspeople filed a separate brief that civil rights laws are not “intended to protect” LGBT+ people.

Their argument notes that “50 attempts to pass legislation to include these things [have] failed”, warning the court to “refrain from judicially circumventing the legislative process”.

The brief warns: “If Congress intended to include sexual orientation and gender identity among the protected classes in Title VII, it could have done so… and legislative attempts to modify Title VII to include them are ongoing.

“Consequently, this court should refrain from judicially circumventing the legislative process.”

Who signed the Supreme Court briefs?

Republican attorneys general from the states of Tennessee, Nebraska, Texas, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Kentucky signed the brief siding with employers who discriminated against LGBT+ people.

The pro-LGBT brief was signed by the attorneys general of Illinois, New York, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, and the District of Columbia.

The Republican lawmakers’ brief was signed by senators Marsha Blackburn, Roy Blunt, John Cornyn, Mike Braun, Kevin Cramer, James M. Inhofe, James Lankford and Mike Lee.

It was also signed by representatives Robert B. Aderholt (AL-04), Rick W. Allen (GA-12), Brian Babin, DDS (TX-36), Jim Banks (IN-03), Andy Biggs (AZ-05), Ted Budd (NC-13), Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (TX-26), Doug Collins (GA-09), Warren Davidson (OH-08), Jeff Duncan (SC-03), Bill Flores (TX-17), Russ Fulcher (ID-01), Louie Gohmert (TX-01), Paul A. Gosar, DDS (AZ-04), Glenn Grothman (WI-06), Michael Guest (MS-03), Andy Harris (MD-01), Vicky Hartzler (MO-04), Jody Hice (GA-10), George Holding (NC-02), Richard Hudson (NC-08), Jim Jordan (OH-04), Steve King (IA-04), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Debbie Lesko (AZ-08), Thomas Massie (KY-04), Mark Meadows (NC-11), Alex X. Mooney (WV-02), Ralph Norman (SC-05), Pete Olson (TX-22), Gary Palmer (AL-06), John Ratcliffe (TX-04), David Rouzer (NC-07), Van Taylor (TX-03), Tim Walberg (MI-07), Mark Walker (NC-06), Randy K. Weber (TX-14), Ron Wright (TX-06) and Ted S. Yoho (FL-03).

More: Republican, supreme court, Trump

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