On October 8, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for three cases: Altitude Express v. Zarda, Bostock v. Clayton County, GA, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC and Aimee Stephens. All three cases concern existing non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ workers.
Interfaith Alliance recognizes that individual faith traditions approach LGBTQ+ identities differently. The First Amendment protects these communities and individuals from governmental interference in their religious doctrines. But we count on our elected representatives and judges to ensure that each of us is treated with dignity and respect within the public sphere.
Too often employers overstep this boundary, citing their personal religious beliefs when making decisions about who to hire or fire. Penalizing LGBTQ+ job applicants and employees isn’t religious freedom – it’s discrimination.
About the Cases
The Supreme Court will consider three cases centered around the definition of employment discrimination on the basis of sex. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states, in part:
It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer…to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual…because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. 42 USC Sec. 2000e-2(a).
Dan Zarda and Gerald Bostock were both fired after their employers learned of their sexual orientation. Aimee Stephens was fired after her employer learned of her gender identity. In all three situations, the employers used sex stereotypes to make hiring and firing decisions.
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the courts define sex stereotypes to include an employer’s beliefs about who their employee should be attracted because of the employee’s sex and the relationship between an employee’s gender identity and the sex they were assigned at birth. A decision in favor of Zarda, Bostock, and Stephen’s employers would take away existing employment protections for millions of LGBTQ+ Americans.
Interfaith Alliance and Allies Rally for #OurDayInCourt
On October 8, Interfaith Alliance and our partners will gather to give a face and voice to the overwhelming majority of Americans who support LGBTQ+ non-discrimination. Join us as we rally on the steps of the Supreme Court to affirm that all Americans deserve to be treated fairly and equally under the law. More information coming soon.
In the meantime, visit www.OurDayInCourt.org to learn about ways to show your support across the country.
Amici Curiae (Friends of the Court)
Amicus briefs are filed by groups that are not directly involved in a case but have a strong interest in the subject matter. The briefs advise the court of relevant, additional information or arguments that the court might wish to consider.
Interfaith Alliance joined an amicus brief in support of Zarda, Bostock, and Stephens, stating that anti-discrimination statutes like Title VII should be applied on the basis of religiously neutral principles of equal protection under the law.
The signors comprise a broad range of religious stakeholders, including more than 700 individual clergy and faith leaders. Together, we call on the Court to affirm that it is morally wrong and constitutionally prohibited to engage in blanket anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination based on the personal religious beliefs of employers or their customers.
How You Can Help
Interfaith Alliance is committed to affirming the dignity of all LGBTQ+ Americans, including many beloved members of our faith communities.These cases focus on discrimination in employment, but LGBTQ+ Americans still face substantial barriers in other key areas of everyday life.
The Equality Act would ensure that LGBTQ+ people – including religious and non-religiously affiliated individuals – enjoy the same freedoms under the law as everyone else. The House of Representatives passed the Equality Act overwhelmingly in May 2019, but the Senate has yet to take it up.
Hero image by Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images.