SCOTUS Decision: Huge Victory but a Small Step Towards Equality
Out Leadership analyzes the decision and spells out what is coming next

At 10 AM today, the Supreme Court handed over a decision passed with a large majority of 6 votes (see the docket files here) in favor of protecting LGBTQ people from workplace discrimination, but our fight is far from over here in the US and abroad.

First, Out Leadership is particularly thinking today of Aimee Stephens, Plaintiff in the SCOTUS Transgender Case, and activist Larry Kramer that both recently passed way and with whom we would have liked to celebrate this victory. We dedicate this moment to them.

Secondly, we are immensely grateful to the coalition of our 80+ member companies that signed up on Out Leadership co-led amicus brief to the Supreme Court ahead the decision. To us, today’s positive outcome is a powerful reminder of the power of the private sector to drive equality.

Thirdly, we welcome a decision that is nullifying many of the awful regulations the current Administration has been issuing from day one, including the Department of Health and Human Services’ recent attack on transgender access to health services announced this Friday. It is also worth noting that Trump’s appointee, Brett Kavanaugh, a reliable arch-conservative to the right of Justices Scalia and Gorsuch, dissented on this case.

Yet, we should remember that in extending basic employment protections to LGBTQ people, SCOTUS is only bringing the US among a broad coalition of 67 seven countries that have passed similar protections. In many ways, employment protection is the bare minimum: in the US today you cannot lose your job by coming out. What an achievement!

We also believe that this decision – albeit surprisingly positive – cannot close the gap in protecting the 11.5 million LGB people and 1.5 million transgender people who live in America in all areas of life, including housing, public places, employment, and federal programs.

Moreover, the most marginalized LGBTQ people—whether they are people of color, incarcerated LGBTQ people or LGBTQ people embattled in the many countries which still criminalize same-sex relationships—still do not have access to the dignity and opportunities Americans in the formal sector will now enjoy through the Title VII protection.

Out Leadership has been outlining three concrete ways it will leverage the power of its member companies to get us closer to true equality.

  1. At the national level, we will work with our member companies to join the fight to pass the Equality Act currently among the House-passed bills ‘dead’ on Mitch McConnell’s desk. More than ever, we need the Equality Act make sure that LGBTQ people are protected in every state and nationally. We will also fight against exceptions which could be built in the constitutional protections for so-called “freedom of religion” in the works;
  2. At the local level, through our State Business Climate Index and CEO briefs, Out Leadership will give concrete tools for companies to push for progress at the state level  while also resisting the plethora of religious bills which are continuously popping up;
  3.  Internationally, through its “Global Pulse” initiatives Out Leadership, the only global coalition of businesses, will leverage the power of the private sector from Hong Kong to Poland to resist state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia and grassroot movements in achieving much-needed legal changes.

While today is a day of celebration and acknowledgement of the contribution of our member companies, it should also serve as an encouragement to continue take the fight for LGBTQ equality to the next level. In the words of Larry Kramer, “We Are Not Crumbs, We Must Not Accept Crumbs.”

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