A member of Donald Trump's Justice Department appeared before the United States 2nd Appeals Court in Manhattan yesterday, September 26, to urge that federal law does not ban discrimination against LGBTQIA workers. Basically, they believe it's okay for a company to fire you if your employer has a problem with you being gay. Deep breaths.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against employees based on their religious beliefs, race, gender, and sex. Under former President Barack Obama, the federal court steered clear of the discussion while the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which appeared in yesterday's hearing to argue the illegality of what Trump's Justice Department lawyer Hashim Mooppan proposed, has been fighting for sexual orientation to be protected under Title VII. Why the Justice Department is getting involved now remains a mystery, as BuzzFeed News reports that Mooppan provided no comment, saying it would not be "appropriate for me to speak to [the] internal deliberations and processes" of the Department.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) is using the Zarda v. Altitude Express case as a means of furthering Trump's anti-LGBTQIA agenda. Back in 2010, skydiving instructor Donald Zarda filed a lawsuit against his former employer, Altitude Express, for firing him based on his sexual orientation. (A customer allegedly complained to the company about him using his homosexuality as a means of making her more comfortable when strapped to his skydiving harness.) Zarda has since died due to a base jumping accident, but his estate continues the fight.
As it stands, these two sectors of the federal government are at odds: the DoJ and the EEOC. The DoJ is arguing one's sex can be separated from one's sexual orientation. Vice News reports that Mooppan said, "There is a common sense, intuitive difference between sex and sexual orientation." This, the EEOC argues, is rooted in sex stereotyping and, therefore, is discrimination based on sex. Jeremy Horowitz, a counsel for the EEOC, rules this way of thinking says anything other than a man and woman being attracted to one another is unnatural, that these individuals are "not behaving the way those genders are supposed to behave."
To any person with common sense, the EEOC's argument is one giant duh; of course, discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation is wrong and should be prohibited under Title VII. Should the EEOC succeed, it will increase the chances of the case going before the Supreme Court and hopefully, further protect LGBTQIA citizens under the law.