June marks the beginning of Pride month, and with it, comes discussion about LGBTQ+ rights and privileges in this country. A few days ago, I read about the case of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia which centered around Pennsylvania Catholic Social Services (CSS) and their right to deny same-sex couples from adopting children. Considering that this is a supposedly pro-life organization, it baffles me that they would deny children a loving home and family because the couple was not heterosexual. Gay couples adopt and foster at nearly 7 times the rate of straight couples, and rulings that permit religious exemptions only harm the lives of foster children.
What perhaps frustrates me most, however, is that the Trump Administration recently petitioned in favor of CSS's appeal to the Supreme Court, asking that they support this group in their religious rights. How is this the same group of officials who push so hard against abortion? If you really want people to adopt, why eliminate a sizable portion of foster/adoptive parents from starting a family? I can't fathom the hypocritical logic, and I began to fear that the Supreme Court would rule in CSS's favor in the upcoming October term. Then, they did something to really surprise me.
On June 15th, the Supreme Court passed a sweeping decision (6-3) that protects LBGTQ+ people in the workplace. The ruling essentially ensures that no person can be denied or terminated from a job on the basis of their sexual orientation. With a conservative majority amongst the justices, I couldn't help but reread the reports I was seeing. Justice Neil Gorsuch argued a few years ago that LGBTQ+ couples were already protected by the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but he was a leading voice on this ruling. He's received enormous dissent from the right-wing, and as a one of Trump's appointees, he somewhat undermined the President's mission to expand "religious liberty."
With all of that being said, this is a landmark case, and it will change the lives of millions of people. It's arguably one of the largest victories the LGBTQ+ community has had since the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015. It may not be as comprehensive as something like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but like I said, this outcome is transformative. While it specifically encompasses workplace issues, it is a bridge leading to future decisions and legislations. It could easily undermine cases like Fulton v. City of Philadelphia or recent attempts from the Trump Administration to cut back on healthcare protections for transgender citizens. (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/15/upshot/transgender-rights-trump.html).
Although this an enormous step in the right direction, LGBTQ+ discrimination is not going to suddenly cease, nor will the issues they face disappear. Responses to areas like healthcare, housing, adoption, crime, mental health services (conversion therapy is still legal in 30 states), communities of color, suicide rates, and general mistreatment from religious groups still need enormous improvement. With the help of organizations like the ACLU, Human Rights Campaign, The Trevor Project and GLSEN, community members and allies alike bring these issues into the public consciousness as well as push the country forward. Hopefully, the Supreme Court's momentous decision will set a precedent for future bipartisan work that expands and equalizes the rights of Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.