Fired up over Tuesday’s Supreme Court Case!

Fighting to fire LGBTQ people is a moral outrage

James Finn
Oct 11, 2019 · 7 min read
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What the Court will decide

Three people’s jobs are at stake in three separate legal cases. Here’s a brief summary:

Legal opinion favors the fired employees

The Court’s four liberal justices made fairly convincing points during oral arguments on Tuesday, noting that all three plaintiffs were fired on “the basis of sex.” If the two men who were fired had been dating or married to women instead of dating or married to other men, they would still have their jobs. If the transgender woman had dressed and behaved in a manner her employer considered appropriate for her biological sex, then she would have kept her job.

Riffing on Gorsuch’s “social upheaval” comment, let’s take a look at what’s really going on at the heart of these three cases.

Sounds confusing? Here’s how Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan, representing Bostock, put it in orals Tuesday:

Worries about social upheaval

But writing in the New Yorker, non-binary author Masha Gessen notes that even with legal arguments seeming fairly cut and dry, the Justices and lawyers in the case couldn’t stop talking about bathrooms. Justice Gorsuch even wondered aloud whether the court should consider “the massive social upheaval” that could follow a ruling in favor of LGBTQ workers.

What the Court won’t decide

Whatever the the Justices decide in this case, no overarching Constitutional principles are at stake. This case does not turn on First Amendment religious liberty questions. It’s a fairly simple (though certainly vital) matter of the Justices deciding what a law means, and how much that law protects different classes of people.

The moral and social implications of the case

Given that jobs and livelihoods are at stake for people all over the country, taking a deeper look at the CAUSES of Tuesday’s case seems important. I think some critical issues are being lost among the detailed (though very important) legal particulars.

They’re homophobes trying to impose their religious beliefs on the public

They’re asking for the right to discriminate against and harm their neighbors. And they might win that right. That’s a really sad statement about the state of our nation today and about our common humanity and moral values. But why bring up religion at all?

Religion drives homophobia

Research shows a strong correlation between being religious and being homophobic and transphobic. The more religious people are in terms of strength of faith and church attendance, the more likely they are to oppose LGBTQ rights. The more secular, the more likely to be accepting and affirming of LGBTQ people.

Religious motives drive legal attention

As Nina Totenberg reported for NPR Tuesday morning, these cases have attracted almost unprecedented legal attention, “with dozens of friend-of-the-court briefs on each side.” Practically all the briefs siding with the employers come from religiously affiliated groups, including groups recognized for their hate speech by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Whatever the court decides, a battle for our national soul has begun

The question is simple but profound. Are we a nation that allows the majority to trample the rights of people who are different? Are we a people who allow religious belief to be wielded as a weapon against oppressed minorities? Are we a pluralistic, secular society or are we a society of warring factions of religious sects, each jealously struggling to wield the Law to force beliefs on people who don’t share them?

Where do we go from here?

Ultimately, the struggle to define national character is a political one. A large majority of Americans support full legal equality for LGBTQ people. But the political scales today are tilted in favor of minority rule. The Republican Party (with the Supreme Court’s cooperation) has rigged the system, suppressing minority votes and leveraging gerrymandering to win disproportionate numbers of seats in Congress and state legislatures. Donald Trump lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College vote for the very same reasons.

It’s time to take our country back!

It’s time for people of good will everywhere to stand up and be counted. We need to take to the streets when that’s appropriate, but more importantly we need to SURGE to the voting booths.

You know that winning back our national soul will take work!

It’s time to ACT. It’s time to contribute to candidates who oppose Trump and his religious allies. It’s time to volunteer and organize. It’s time to fire up your neighbors. It’s time to harness optimism and lead a charge that will turn Trump out of the White House and throw his Republican allies out of the Senate.

Let’s get started today!

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James Finn

Written by

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot.

James Finn - The Blog

Collected Writings. Stories and ramblings from a long-time LGBTQ thinker and activist.

James Finn

Written by

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot.

James Finn - The Blog

Collected Writings. Stories and ramblings from a long-time LGBTQ thinker and activist.

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