Today, HRC released the following statement in response to a decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rejecting the argument that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation. In the case considered by the court, the plaintiff, Kimberly Hively, had argued that she was denied full-time employment and promotions based on her sexual orientation.
“We are deeply disappointed in the 7th Circuit Court’s decision failing to join the growing consensus that existing civil rights law must reasonably be interpreted to include non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “While the court made its decision based on what it viewed as precedent, it did make clear however that there is no coherent basis for excluding sexual orientation from other types of sex discrimination claims. The court’s decision makes the need even more urgent for Congress to pass the Equality Act, making explicitly and permanently clear that LGBTQ people are protected under our nation’s civil rights laws.”
The Equality Act would finally guarantee explicit, permanent protections for LGBTQ people under our existing civil rights laws. It would provide clear, permanent, and equal protections under federal law for all Americans in vital areas of life, like employment, access to public spaces, housing, credit, education, jury service, and federally-funded programs. Over the last year, this crucial federal non-discrimination legislation has gained bipartisan support and unprecedented endorsements from the business community, including more than 80 major employers.