Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. That excluded a pretty significant portion of our population: LGBT Americans.
Alas! We have some good news to report.
LGBT protections have been added to President Johnson's signature legislative accomplishment: The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation. The ruling does not affect all the states, only three. The Seventh district includes Wisconsin, Illinois and Pence's old homophobic stomping grounds, Indiana. All three states have Republican Governors, ironically.
The argument: Federal civil rights laws prohibit sex discrimination, and this, based on the Seventh Circuit Court’s interpretation of the law, encompasses sexual orientation. “It would require considerable calisthenics to remove the ‘sex’ from ‘sexual orientation.’ The effort to do so has led to confusing and contradictory results,” Chief Judge Diane Wood concluded in the majority opinion.
The case related to Kimberly Hively, an openly lesbian woman who had applied for multiple positions at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, only to never be hired full time. She believed the rejections were related to her sexual orientation, so she filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and a lawsuit — arguing this anti-gay discrimination was illegal under federal law. The Seventh Circuit Court sided with her, reversing previous decisions on the topic.
This is the biggest pro-gay legal decision since Marriage Equality won 5-4 in June, 2015. It is a great start and here's to hoping that this trend can continue in other lower federal courts. If it makes it to the Supreme Court, a Gorsuch SCOTUS will likely be hostile to gay rights.
It's about time we consider this oft persecuted minority a protected class. They've earned this victory.