Administration

Trump says ‘we live’ with SCOTUS decision on LGBTQ worker rights

President Trump said the White House would “live” with the Supreme Court’s ruling earlier on Monday that gay and transgender employees are protected by civil rights laws against employer discrimination.

The Trump administration had argued on behalf of a group of employers in the case, arguing that the Civil Rights Act did not cover gay or transgender employees. 

“I’ve read the decision, and some people were surprised,” Trump said. “But they’ve ruled and we live with their decision.

“That’s what it’s all about. We live with the decision of the Supreme Court,” the president said of the 6-3 decision, which irked many conservatives in part because Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch sided with the majority.

“Very powerful. Very powerful decision actually,” Trump added. “But they have so ruled.”

The court ruled earlier Monday that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which forbids discrimination on the basis of “sex,” applies to gay and transgender people. The decision was one of the most highly anticipated of the Supreme Court term and came in the middle of Pride Month.

It was legal in dozens of states to fire workers based on their sexual orientation prior to Monday’s ruling. Gorsuch, who Trump nominated to the court in 2017, wrote the opinion for the six-member majority.

“Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender,” Gorsuch wrote. “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.”

Gorsuch was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and liberal Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh, another Trump nominee, dissented from the decision.

Civil rights groups and LGBT advocates celebrated Monday’s landmark decision. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called it a “momentous step forward for our country.”

Conservatives expressed frustration at the court’s ruling, arguing that the judiciary had stepped into legislative territory. Some singled out Gorsuch in particular for criticism.

“Justice Scalia would be disappointed that his successor has bungled textualism so badly today, for the sake of appealing to college campuses and editorial boards,” said Carrie Severino, president of the conservative organization Judicial Crisis Network.

The decision came just days after the Health and Human Services Department finalized a rule that excludes gay and transgender people from discrimination protections under the Affordable Care Act.

It’s one of several acts by the administration that has set back LGBT rights, even though the president insisted during the 2016 campaign that he would be an advocate for the community.

The administration has pushed to end the criminalization of homosexuality around the world, and Trump formally recognized Pride Month last year for the first time, though he has yet to do so this year.

Trump also oversaw the Pentagon’s policy barring most transgender people from serving in the military unless they serve under their biological sex. 

That policy took effect last year following a series of court battles.

 

Tags Brett Kavanaugh Clarence Thomas Donald Trump Elena Kagan Joe Biden LGBTQ rights Neil Gorsuch Ruth Bader Ginsburg Samuel Alito Sonia Sotomayor Stephen Breyer Supreme Court

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