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Earlier today (June 15), the Supreme Court ruled that a landmark civil rights law protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination.

The case concerned Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employment discrimination based on race, religion, national origin and sex. The question for the justices was whether the part that bars discrimination “because of sex” applies to gay and transgender workers.

Lawyers on one side argued that the common understanding of sex discrimination in 1964 was bias against women or men and did not encompass discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  However, lawyers on the opposing side of the argument responded that discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation or transgender status must, as a matter of logic, take account of sex.

The 6-3 ruling said, “An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII… [which] makes it ‘unlawful . . . for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual . . . because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.'”

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