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Federal Law Now Protects LGBTQ Employees From Discrimination. But What’s Next?

A person waves a rainbow flag in front of the Supreme Court building.
Ted Eytan

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay, lesbian and transgender employees are protected from discrimination on the basis of sex on Monday. The 6-3 decision extended the definition of “discrimination on the basis of sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation and gender discrimination. 

Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s first appointee to the court, wrote the majority opinion, which argued that any reason for firing a gay or transgender employee was rooted in discrimination based on their biological sex. Dissenting justices argued that the ruling was based on a modern, cultural interpretation of the statute rather than the law itself. The decision comes on the heels of a June 12 decision by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that removed nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ patients in health care and health insurance. Law experts are still discussing how the Title VII ruling may affect this decision and other statutes, such as those that cover housing or education. 

Host Frank Stasio speaks with Duke University Law School professor Trina Jones about the ruling, its significance and the implications for other statutes that deal with discrimination. Stasio also talks to Ames Simmons, the policy director for Equality NC, about how the law affects LGBTQ communities in North Carolina.

Kaia Findlay is the lead producer of Embodied, WUNC's weekly podcast and radio show about sex, relationships and health. Kaia first joined the WUNC team in 2020 as a producer for The State of Things.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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