subscribe: Posts | Comments      Facebook      Email Steve

Trump’s Supreme Court takes up gay rights


Trump and the Republican Party do not believe that gay people deserve any protection under the country’s landmark 1964 Civil Rights bill.

I think the general perception is that Trump, himself, is probably not homophobic. He may not be a supporter of gay rights, and may personally be made uncomfortable by gay people, but in his life he has shown no particular hostility to gay people—until he became president. His daughter, Ivanka, in particular, seems gay-friendly (after all, she was in the rag business), although it has to be admitted that her brand of Judaism (she converted in 2009) is the far-right, fiercely homophobic Lubavitch strain of Orthodoxy. I have known “Lubies,” as they’re affectionately known. They’re the world’s nicest, most welcoming people—unless you’re gay, in which case they may, or may not, confess to you that, when the Messiah returns (as they believe he will) and Jewish Sharia law is instituted, they will give gay people two options: convert, or be stoned to death.

But I digress. Trump’s homophobic views on gay rights will certainly be the backdrop of a case the Supreme Court took up today: Does the federal law that bans sex discrimination in hiring apply to gay people as well as to women?

The answer, from the point of view of decency and common sense, is Yes.

Clearly, Clayton County, Georgia (which, interestingly enough, went heavily Democratic in the 2018 Blue Wave election), was horribly wrong, when it fired Gerald Bostock for being gay. He had worked, for ten years, with the county courts in providing legal protections for abused and neglected children, and by all accounts did an outstanding job. “I lost my livelihood. I lost my medical insurance, and at the time I was fighting prostate cancer. It was devastating,” a distraught Bostock said.

What does the 1964 Civil Rights Act actually say? Title VII is the relevant clause:

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…sex.”

How did the law’s authors define “sex”? Here it is: “The terms ‘because of sex’ or ‘on the basis of sex’ include, but are not limited to, because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions; and women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-­related purposes…”.

Now, it’s true that the law says nothing specific about gay people. It says a great deal about women, but is silent on the LGBT community. However, the key phrase is “but are not limited to.” That left the door open for whether or not Gerald Bostock could be fired from his job simply because he was gay. And that’s what this Supreme Court case is all about.

Obviously, the case could be decided either way. The Court could rule on a very narrow basis that Title VII says nothing about gay people, so therefore, Bostock is not protected. Or it could rule that, back in 1964 when Congress debated the Civil Rights Act, gay issues had not yet emerged as national urgency, but that gay people do fall under the protected cover of “because of sex.”

It seems clear that gay people should be protected. How can an employer feel free to fire a competent worker simply because the employer’s supposedly “Christian” religion is homophobic? That’s crazy.

But when you look at the makeup of this Supreme Court, there’s a lot of potential for craziness. The Court is dominated by religiously conservative Roman Catholics, and Catholicism, let us remember, is notoriously homophobic; the Vatican’s position remains that homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered.” (This, despite the worldwide scandals of priestly pedophilia! Talk about “intrinsically disordered”!!)

Some Roman Catholics are obviously more open-minded about homosexuality than others, but several decades of appointments of justices by homophobic Republican presidents, supported by homophobic Republican Senators, have stacked the Court’s balance in favor of homophobia.

Still, sometimes this Court can surprise us. Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative Catholic, voted both to end the ban against gay people in the military, and to allow gay people to get married. Perhaps this was a difficult decision for him (although it shouldn’t have been). Perhaps he voted as he did with one eye cast on his future legacy in jurisprudential history. If he did, other rightwing Catholic justices—especially the rabid Clarence Thomas—did not feel the same way. And now, we have the unknown, but suspect, Brett Kavanaugh to deal with…another Catholic, who appears to also be a rapist, and whose anger at Democrats is unbounded.

In any sane, just and decent decision, this Court will order Bostock reinstated, and allow him to sue his former employer in civil court, for a huge amount of money to compensate—partially—for the emotional and financial damage he suffered because of somebody’s hatred of gay people. Is it too much to hope that SCOTUS will do the right thing? In this Age of Trump, yes. But we can hope…

Leave a Reply


Recent Comments

Recent Posts