On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of The United States will hear opening arguments for a set of cases that hold more weight for LGBTQ people than the marriage equality fight of several years ago. These three cases center around the issue of LGBTQ employment discrimination and will determine if federal law protects LGBTQ people from being fired because of who they are or who they love.
The folks at the heart of these cases are everyday people. Aimee Stephens worked as a funeral director in Michigan and was fired after coming out to her boss as transgender and expressing a desire to bring her full self to work. Donald Zarda was fired from his job as a skydiving instructor for being gay. So was Gerald Lynn Bostock, who worked as a county child welfare services coordinator in Georgia. All three of these people—and countless other Americans—lost their jobs simply for being who they are.
In my work as the Executive Director of Equality North Carolina, I’m lucky to have job security despite my sexual orientation. But for many of my LGBTQ friends across North Carolina—and this country—that is not the case. The harsh reality is that millions of LGBTQ Americans report having experienced discrimination in their everyday lives and on the job, including right here in North Carolina.
All people deserve the right to work hard and support themselves and their families without fear of harassment or discrimination at work. The Supreme Court should affirm that reality. But regardless of how the Court rules, it’s also critical that we pass a bill here in North Carolina, and that Congress passes a federal law that backs up those protections across the nation.
Please—pay attention to these cases, and talk to the LGBTQ people in your lives about them. This is scary and monumental decision that will literally govern many LGBTQ folks’ ability to hold down a job and put food on the table for their families. It’s on all of us to make it known that we support the protection of LGBTQ people in the workplace and to help build a world where we can be authentically ourselves in every realm of our lives.
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