Connect with us

National

Trump’s Justice Department undoes support for trans workers under Title VII

Transgender civil rights threatened

Published

on

Title IX, gay news, Washington Blade

The Justice Department under Jeff Sessions has reverses its support for trans workers protections under Title VII. (Photo by Gage Skidmore; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Bucking a string of court rulings and the views of a separate U.S. agency, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday reversed the Justice Department’s support for the legal view trans workers are eligible for non-discrimination protections under current civil rights law.

In a two-page memo dated Oct. 4, Sessions informed Justice Department attorneys the U.S. government will no longer view the prohibition on sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to apply to discrimination on the basis of transgender status.

“Although federal law, including Title VII, provides various protections to transgender individuals, Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se,” Sessions writes. “This is a conclusion of law, not policy.”

The memo is consistent with the Justice Department’s view under the Trump administration Title VII affords no non-discrimination protections to lesbian, gay and bisexual workers. Just last week, a Justice Department attorney argued before the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals the law doesn’t apply to an employment discrimination case filed by Donald Zarda, a deceased gay skydiver, because Congress didn’t intend Title VII to cover sexual orientation.

Session’s view reverses the position former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder staked out under the Obama administration in a 2014 memo affirming Title VII covers “encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status.”

Devin O’Malley, a Justice Department spokesperson said the Obama administration was at fault for finding transgender protections under Title VII in the first place.

“The Department of Justice cannot expand the law beyond what Congress has provided,” O’Malley said. “Unfortunately, the last administration abandoned that fundamental principle, which necessitated today’s action. This Department remains committed to protecting the civil and constitutional rights of all individuals, and will continue to enforce the numerous laws that Congress has enacted that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”

The position ignores multiple circuit court rulings affirming transgender people are eligible for protections under Title VII. Four federal appellate courts — the First, Sixth, Ninth and Eleventh circuit courts of appeals — have determined employment discrimination against transgender people is barred under the law.

Further, Sessions’ position conflicts with the position of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which determined in its 2012 ruling in Macy v. Holder under the Obama administration that Title VII covers transgender discrimination.

Christine Nazer, an EEOC spokesperson, said the agency has received the Sessions memo and is “reviewing it,” but declined to comment further.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement the Trump administration is “determined to promote discrimination through a false view of the law that has been rejected again and again by the courts.”

“The attorney general does not get to make law, but he should at least read it,” Keisling said. “Simply: He is once again abdicating his responsibilities to enforce the law. Courts have repeatedly ruled that transgender people are protected by sex discrimination laws in employment, education, housing and healthcare. We’ll see him in court.”

Transgender people have a high incident rate of employment discrimination. In the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, one in six respondents reported losing a job because of being transgender. Among Black respondents, the rate is higher: One-quarter reported losing a job because they’re being transgender.

James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union LGBT & HIV Project, said in a statement the memo “marks another low point” for the Justice Department in its abdication of responsibility to LGBT Americans.

“Discrimination against transgender people is sex discrimination, just as DOJ recognized years ago,” Esseks said. “We are confident that the courts will continue to agree and will reject the politically driven decision by Attorney General Sessions.”

Joel Kasnetz, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, also condemned the move as an attack on LGBT people.

“By reinterpreting our employment laws to try to stop protecting transgender people from discrimination, Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and Jeff Sessions have revealed their real goal – turn the clock back to a time when life was even more difficult for LGBTQ people, transgender individuals in particular,” Kasnetz said.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

National

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards vetoes trans youth sports bill

Discrimination is not a Louisiana value, and this bill was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana

Published

on

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) (Official state portrait)

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana’s Democratic John Bel Edwards announced Tuesday that he has vetoed a measure that would have barred trans girls and women from participating on athletic teams or in sporting events designated for girls or women at elementary, secondary and postsecondary schools. 

The measure, Senate Bill 156 authored by Sen. Beth Mizell titled the ‘the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,’ in the Governor’s eyes, “was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana,” Edwards said in his veto statement;

“As I have said repeatedly when asked about this bill, discrimination is not a Louisiana value, and this bill was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana. Even the author of the bill acknowledged throughout the legislative session that there wasn’t a single case where this was an issue. 

Further, it would make life more difficult for transgender children, who are some of the most vulnerable Louisianans when it comes to issues of mental health. We should be looking for more ways to unite rather than divide our citizens. And while there is no issue to be solved by this bill, it does present real problems in that it makes it more likely that NCAA and professional championships, like the 2022 Final Four, would not happen in our state. For these and for other reasons, I have vetoed the bill.”

The Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper’s State House reporter, Blake Paterson, noted that [the law] would have required athletic teams or sporting events for women at public institutions be composed only of “biological females,” or those who presumably were listed as female on their birth certificates.

The measure won Senate approval 29-6 and cleared the House 78-19. Those margins are wide enough to override a governor’s veto, though it’s unclear whether lawmakers will return to Baton Rouge to do so.


“Governor Edwards deserves enormous credit for urging Louisianans to reject the politics of division and to focus on what brings us together, including a shared concern for vulnerable children. As his veto message rightly notes, transgender youth already face huge challenges,” Shannon Minter, the Legal Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, (NCLR) told the Blade in an email. “Banning them from school sports would not make any child’s life better or safer, but it would bring discredit and economic hardship to the state, which likely would lose NCAA and professional championships. Governor Edward’s veto message is a model of clarity and compassion. We need more leaders with his courage.”

The ACLU reacted in a tweet saying:

 

Continue Reading

National

Anti-LGBTQ religious extremist celebrates death at Wilton Manors Pride

Mehta points out this type of rhetoric is quite likely to inspire violence against the LGBTQ community by one of Shelley’s followers

Published

on

Screenshot vis Twitter

HURST, Tx. – The pastor of a fundamentalist Baptist Church in this suburban Fort Worth, Texas city took to his pulpit to celebrate the death of an attendee at the Wilton Manors, Florida Pride parade this past weekend.

Pastor Jonathan Shelley, whose church is affiliated with infamous “death to gays” Pastor Steven Anderson in Phoenix, Arizona is quoted by Patheos writer and progressive blogger Hemant Mehta saying; […]”I hope they all die! I would love it if every fag would die right now.” […]

Mehta, who runs the heavily trafficked The Friendly Atheist, also noted that Shelley told his congregants; “And, you know, it’s great when trucks accidentally go through those, you know, parades. I think only one person died. So hopefully we can hope for more in the future.”

Mehta noted that the video of Shelley’s hate-filled remarks on this and other anti-LGBTQ vitriol is still accessible on Shelley’s YouTube Channel. He also points out this type of rhetoric is quite likely to inspire violence against the LGBTQ community by one of Shelley’s followers.

The Blade has reached out to YouTube Tuesday for comment but has yet to receive a response.

Editor’s note; The language used in the video in the embedded tweet below is uncensored hate speech:

In a related update from the Daily Beast, Fred Johnson Jr., who was named by Wilton Manors police as the driver of the vehicle that veered out of control killing one person and injuring two others at Saturday’s Stonewall Pride Parade has offered his “sincere regrets to all those who were impacted by this tragic event.”

Continue Reading

National

Vigil held after Wilton Manors Pride parade accident

Fort Lauderdale mayor expressed ‘regret’ over initial terrorism claim

Published

on

A vigil in the wake of the accident at the Stonewall Pride Parade took place at the Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on June 20, 2021. (Washington Blade photo by Yariel Valdés González)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — More than 100 people on Sunday attended a prayer vigil in the wake of an accident at a Wilton Manors Pride parade that left one person dead and another injured.

The vigil took place at the Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale.

Clergy joined activists and local officials at a vigil at the Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on June 20, 2021. (Washington Blade photo by Yariel Valdés González)

A 77-year-old man who was driving a pickup truck struck two men near the Stonewall Pride Parade’s staging area shortly before 7 p.m. on Saturday. One of the victims died a short time later at a Fort Lauderdale hospital.

The pickup truck narrowly missed U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who was in a convertible participating in the parade, and Florida Congressman Ted Deutch.

The driver of the pickup truck and the two men he hit are members of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus. The Fort Lauderdale Police Department on Sunday described the incident as a “fatal traffic crash” and not a terrorism incident as Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis initially claimed.

“As we were about to begin the parade, this pickup truck, this jacked up white pickup truck, dashed across, breaking through the line, hitting people, all of us that were there could not believe our eyes,” said Trantalis as he spoke at the vigil.

Trantalis noted the pickup truck nearly hit Wasserman Schultz. He also referenced the arrest of a 20-year-old supporter of former President Trump earlier in the week after he allegedly vandalized a Pride flag mural that had been painted in an intersection in Delray Beach, which is roughly 30 miles north of Fort Lauderdale.

“I immediately knew that something terrible was happening,” said Trantalis, referring to the Stonewall Pride Parade accident. “My visceral reaction was that we were being attacked. Why not? Why not feel that way?”

“I guess I should watch to make sure there are no reporters standing by when I have those feelings, but that was my first reaction and I regret the fact that I said it was a terrorist attack because we found out that it was not, but I don’t regret my feelings,” he added. “But I don’t regret that I felt terrorized by someone who plowed through the crowd inches away from the congresswoman and the congressman, myself and others.”

Trantalis also told vigil attendees that “I guess we forgive” the pickup truck driver.

“But I regret that his consequences resulted in the death of an individual who was innocent and who was there to have a good time, like the rest of us, and I regret there is a man who is in serious condition … fighting for his life and there,” added Trantalis.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular