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San Francisco Office of Transgender Initiatives celebrates landmark Supreme Court decision on LGBTQ rights

Today the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) issued a ruling that Title VII protects individuals from employment discrimination because discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is discrimination based on sex.

Today we pause to take a moment to celebrate this historic moment in our movement for social justice during San Francisco’s 50th annual LGBTQ Pride Month. This is an incredible step in ensuring protections for LGBTQ people across the country. Today’s decision is heartening and encouraging, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the vitally important nationwide demonstrations in support of Black lives against systemic racism.  

However, our work is far from finished. We have to continue to do all that we can to dismantle legal and cultural systems of racism that continue to have devastating effects on our Black communities, including the murders of Black people, and Black transgender women. We are still mourning the recent murders of  Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells and Riah Milton from last week. 

There are also gaps in federal nondiscrimination laws, and many state laws. While LGBTQ people will now have legal protections from workplace discrimination, it will still be legal under federal law: 

  • For stores and places of public accommodations to discriminate against LGBTQ people. 

  • For federally funded programs, including hospitals and colleges, to discriminate against LGBTQ people. 

Thankfully we have these protections in San Francisco and across California, but many states across the country have not passed these laws. 

While this court decision strips the legal basis from the latest HHS rule finalized last Friday, the HHS rule will still have to be litigated. It’s scary to think that people could be denied the medical care that they need when they need it, especially during a global pandemic. 

We need Congress to fully protect LGBTQ people from discrimination and pass full federal nondiscrimination protections.  

We also need to address racism that perpetuates discrimination and violence against Black people – and all people of color, including those who are part of our LGBTQ community. Even with long-standing strong protections in California and this SCOTUS decision, Black LGBTQ people still face disproportionate discrimination across their lives. We have to continue to change our culture, and invest into our Black trans and LGBTQ communities, and LGBTQ communities of color to work towards full equality for our country. Until our laws and programs remedy systemic racism and inequality, and our culture catches up to those laws, our pursuit of LGBTQ equality is far from done. 

We also want to lift up some other Supreme Court decisions that came down today that both helped support our communities, and harmed them. 

  • We are saddened that SCOTUS declined to reexamine the doctrine of “qualified immunity” that has shielded police and other government officials from lawsuits over their conduct. 

  • We are also saddened to see that SCOTUS upheld a permit that would allow for the Appalachian pipeline to be built. A struggle that is led by indigenous communities. 

  • We are also celebrating that SCOTUS declined to review a Sanctuary Cities case, which means that Sanctuary Cities like San Francisco still can resist working with ICE. 

  • We are still waiting for the SCOTUS decision on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The DACA policy provides undocumented immigrants who arrived to the US as children (Dreamers) renewable two-year deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit, and could be phased out by SCOTUS. 

But for now we want to pause, and take a moment to thank trans leaders who helped make today possible.  We are saddened that Aimee Stephens is not here with us today, but are grateful that she has left us a tremendous legacy that will never be forgotten. 

A coalition named #DecisionDay is hosting a Virtual Town Hall today at 5:30 pm PT where you can learn about the full implications of the Title VII SCOTUS ruling from movement leaders at ACLUNCLRFreedom For All Americans, and Equality Florida

And join us today to celebrate with the #DecisionDay Virtual Rally at 4:00 pm PT.