Sometimes small gestures can have unexpected consequences. Major initiatives practically guarantee them. In our time, few pieces of federal legislation rank in significance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There, in Title VII, Congress outlawed discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. 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.
Those who adopted the Civil Rights Act might not have anticipated their work would lead to this particular result. Likely, they weren’t thinking about many of the Act’s consequences that have become apparent over the years, including its prohibition against discrimination on the basis of motherhood or its ban on the sexual harassment of maleDavid Beavers and Daniel Lippman at Politico Influence:
employees. But the limits of the drafters’ imagination supply no reason to ignore the law’s demands. When the express terms of a statute give us one answer and extratextual considerations suggest another, it’s no contest. Only the written word is the law, and all persons are entitled to its benefit.
CHAMBER CHEERS SUPREME COURT RULING: Among those cheering the Supreme Court’s ruling this morning that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars discrimination against LGBTQ workers: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber “is pleased that, as a result of today’s Supreme Court ruling, federal law prohibits discrimination in the workplace against gay, lesbian and transgender employees,” Neil Bradley, the Chamber’s chief policy officer, said in a statement. “Consistent with our support for H.R. 5 (116), the Equality Act, the U.S. Chamber believes protecting American workers from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation or national origin is absolutely essential to fulfilling the promise of equality that is fundamental to American life.”