The LGBTQ+ community and its supporters are calling Monday’s Supreme Court decision a victory during Pride month. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled existing federal law forbids job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and transgender status.
Previously, 21 states had their own laws prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Seven more provide that protection only to public employees. Those laws remain in force, but the ruling means federal law now provides similar protection for LGBTQ+ employees in the rest of the country, including South Dakota. Locally, members of Sioux Falls Pride say this will give certainty to the community members here, who may have feared losing their jobs by just being themselves.
“I was so relieved and happy and excited,” Cody Ingle, Sioux Falls Pride, said.
Ingle speaks from experience. When he came out, it came with mixed results.
“Coming out in that process was a great experience, but it did have consequences to it. Like losing a job and trying to figure out what does that mean to me?” Ingle said.
The Court’s 6-3 ruling extends the scope of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion, to include LGBTQ+ people. Now LGBTQ+ employees in all 50 states can work openly without fear of being fired.
“We absolutely needed this. There’s been a couple of big hits against our community discrimination-wise from the federal government,” Boots Among Trees, Sioux Falls Pride, said.
Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s first nominee to the Supreme Court, wrote the decision. Among Trees says the decision doesn’t grant the LGBTQ+ community any special privileges.
“We really are striving for equality among people, regardless of being LGBTQ+ or two-spirit, and just to be able to be ethical workers and ethical employers,” Among Trees said.
“Oftentimes, people accuse the LGBTQ or two-spirited community of wanting more rights or extra rights. That’s not something we’re fighting for. We’re fighting for fair and equitable treatment,” Ingle said.
Even though the decision levels out the workplace, Ingle and Among Trees say there’s still more work to do to fight discrimination.
“The fight is worth it and that we’re going to continue fighting for those things,” Ingle said.