Donald Trump has repeatedly shown his lack of regard for the civil rights of the people he is supposed to represent. Almost immediately after taking office he went after Muslims via his travel ban. He has neglected to speak against the shootings of unarmed people by police. He campaigned on and has continued to push for a border wall to keep undocumented immigrants from coming in through Mexico.
For a while it seemed like there was nothing more hateful Trump could do to single-out and otherwise ostracize any already marginalized group of people. However, on Wednesday, Trump proved to the world that his capacity to hate is larger than many thought. He banned transgender people from serving in the military.
The military ban wasn’t the only hate the Trump administration was peddling against the LGBTQ+ community on Wednesday. In another discriminatory move, Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department also took steps to chip away at the rights that all people are supposed to have in the workplace. The DoJ filed a brief stating that prohibiting discrimination based on gender, is not covered under federal laws.
The law being challenged is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prevents employers from discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity, religion, national origin, and/or skin color. The case is Zarda v. Altitude Express, which alleges that Daniel Zarda, who is now dead, was fired because of his sexual preference.
The case is now before the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which in April ruled that it wouldn’t accept the claim that discrimination based on sexual preference is not allowed under Title VII. However, Lamda Legal, an advocacy agency that fights for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, challenged the ruling, which is what has led to the Justice Department’s involvement. The Justice Department subsequently filed an amicus brief.
Citing the power of the Justice Department and its influence, Sharita Gruberg, Associate Director for the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress argued:
‘It is the Justice Department of the U.S. It’s not just anyone, so it’s definitely going to have a lot of weight because it is the position of the U.S. government, so it will be interesting to see how Second Circuit takes those arguments.’
The protection Title VII provides to members of the LGBTQ+ community has been become increasingly blurred over the years. While the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission acknowledges that transgender individuals are protected from discrimination, is has also held that Title VII only covers discrimination based on sexual orientation. For this reason, court precedents regarding sexual orientation and gender, have spread the spectrum.
Unfortunately, the message that the Trump administration sends by having the Justice Department argue against the rights of transgender people in the workplace, is that if you’re trans in America, you don’t matter. There is nothing “great” about that.
An easy-to-understand explanation of Title VII, may be viewed below:
Featured Image via Getty/Chip Somodevilla/Staff