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Man at centre of landmark Supreme Court case emotionally explains what it was like to be fired for being gay

Nick Duffy November 26, 2019
Gerald Bostock was fired for being gay, legally

Gerald Bostock was fired for being gay, legally (HRC)

Gerald Bostock, who is at the centre of a US Supreme Court battle on LGBT+ rights, has spoken about what it was like to lose his job because he is gay.

The former child welfare worker from Clayton County, Georgia, is one of three plaintiffs at the centre of a legal battle that will see the US Supreme Court decide whether it is legal for employers to fire people because of their sexuality or gender identity.

Gerald Bostock: ‘Being fired was most difficult day of my life.’

In a video, he explained: “I was employed by Clayton County for over ten years advocating for child abuse and neglect victims.

“I absolutely loved my job. It was my dream job… I was good at it. Then one day, I decided to join a gay recreational softball league, and from that moment forward my life changed, because I was fired.”

Bostockadded: “The reason for termination was ‘conduct unbecoming a Clayton County employee’. I knew immediately that it was because of my sexual orientation.

“It was the most difficult day of my life, aside from my cancer diagnosis.

“I barely remember driving home. I lost my livelihood. I lost my medical insurance at a time I was recovering from prostate cancer.”

Supreme Court decision will impact millions of LGBT+ people.

Bostock continued: “I was certainly a victim in this process, but what about the children right here today that identify as LGBTQ?

“What kind of message did Clayton County send to those children – a message that I hear is that their lives don’t matter.

“It’s no longer just about me. This is an issue of national importance. It impacts millions of people across this country. So, we carried the case to the United States Supreme Court.”

It's still legal to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity in 28 states
It’s still legal to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity in 28 states (HRC)

He added: “I believe in our judicial system, and what that building stands for. I am optimistic that we’re going to make a difference here and that the justices will make the right decision.

“No one should go to work fearful of losing their job because of who they are how they identify or who they love.”

The court’s nine justices, who heard oral arguments in October, are considering whether existing civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination based on sex could be applied to cover people based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The court’s decision will be pivotal, as 28 US states still lack LGBT+ discrimination protections and a federal bill to install explicit protections has been stalled by Republicans for more than two decades.

In addition to Bostock, there are two other LGBT+ people who were fired because of their identity at the centre of the combined Supreme Court case.

Aimee Stephens was sacked from her job at a Michigan funeral parlour after transitioning, while the late Donald Zarda was fired from his job as a skydiving instructor because he is gay.

The Trump administration has sided with the employers, delivering arguments before the Supreme Court in favour of continuing to permit discrimination.

More: Gerald Bostock, hrc, LGBT, supreme court, Title VII, trump administration

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