It is a relatively rare rainy morning in the Triangle region of North Carolina as I begin to pen this article. However a huge “ray of sunshine” arrived mid-morning from Washington, D.C and really brightened my and every thinking American’s day. Let’s explore.
Monday morning the Supreme Court announced its decision in Bostock v Clayton County, Georgia which in a common Supreme Court practice is an amalgamation of several cases all dealing with the central question of whether discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity is legal. 6-3 the Court held that it is not under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That is a great victory for humanity and the story goes much deeper than just the, albeit significant, margin. (I, like many, assumed this would go 5-4.)
Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion (more about that below) in which he was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts (that is significant) and fellow Associate Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.
The fact that Gorsuch wrote the opinion, as well as what he said in it, are significant. For those among you who are not Court followers, which justice writes the opinion is determined by the senior justice voting with the majority. In this case I am assuming Roberts was in the majority from the beginning as opposed to someone who switched his vote during the process and he determined who got the assignment of writing the majority opinion. Having Trump appointee and arch-conservative Gorsuch write the opinion will make it more difficult to attack, is a loss for the Trump administration, illustrates that you never really know how a justice will rule once on the high court and shows just how clear cut the case was if you simply follow the law.
Gorsuch ruled that a person is a person under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 regardless of what the Congress was thinking of when they passed it. I remember the battle over the Civil Rights Act of 1964 well and the thinking was African-Americans not about gay or transgender people; I can’t remember that aspect ever entering the conversation. In fact back then gay jokes were socially acceptable and transgender was not even in the lexicon. In this instance the right wing got caught in their too many definitions of a person; let’s hope the same thing ultimately happens to them in choice cases.
The right wing likes to make an exclusivity claim on Christianity. That is laughably false! In fact if the right wing Christians would only practice what they profess to believe the world would be a much better place. (They also need a serious lesson in the First Amendment’s effective separation of church and state.) I am not a Christian but I have long incorporated two Christian tenets into my personal philosophy; one of them is: All God’s Children. That basically means that at our core we are all equal. That is simple and you don’t even have to believe in God to believe and more importantly practice it. Gay people, transgender and gender ambiguous people are people. To put it more simply people are people period!
As we celebrate today’s ruling I have a word of caution. This is another example of the conservative Court “giving in” on a social issue. What I have yet to see – and with adding Gorsuch and Kavanaugh to its lineup I think is even less likely – is a decision that will either cost the Republicans votes or their financiers significant money.
That said, this is tremendous and a great win for “the cause”; I contend even more significant than Oberkfell. Marriage is a choice, albeit a very significant one that conveys certain rights in our legal system; for almost all Americans work is a necessity.
The rain continues into the afternoon but I feel sunny in my heart.
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