This Week in LGBT Non-Discrimination: Two Huge Court Victories for LGBT Protections

By Adam Polaski • April 7, 2017 • 6:36 pm

Editors’ Note: Each weekend of this year’s legislative session for the next few months, Freedom for All Americans will be recapping what happened in states across the country with regard to LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination. Here’s our next 2017 entry – a look at the landscape for LGBT non-discrimination in these four states:

Two courts took significant steps to advance the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans in employment and housing this week.

On Tuesday, in an 8-3 order, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects individuals from workplace discrimination based on their sexual orientation. The first-of-its-kind ruling came as a result of a lawsuit filed by Lambda Legal on behalf of Kimberly Hively, who was denied a job at Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend, Ind. because she is a lesbian.

And, on Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Raymond P. Moore ruled in a separate Lambda Legal case that a property owner who refused to rent a home to an LGBT family violated the Fair Housing Act and the 2008 Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act.

“While we are heartened by these rulings, now is not the time to rest. There are currently only 18 states in the nation that fully protect LGBT individuals and their families from discrimination in housing, employment and public services. These rulings further highlight the need for lawmakers to adopt nondiscrimination laws to protect individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Matt McTighe, executive director of Freedom for All Americans said following the ruling.

Freedom for All Americans is working in states and localities across the nation to ensure that LGBT people and families are protected from discrimination in housing, employment and public services.

Below are some of the top state nondiscrimination stories of the week:

Arkansas

Earlier this year, legislators in Arkansas introduced several anti-LGBT measures, including one that called for a state constitutional amendment to man same-sex marriage in the state and two additional measures that would prohibit transgender people from using the restroom that matches the gender they live as everyday. Thankfully, the General Assembly adjourned on Monday without passing any of these dangerous and discriminatory bills.

New Hampshire

The Lebanon City Council unanimously approved a resolution that updates the city’s anti-harassment policies to protect transgender city workers, contractors and volunteers. The measure also officially endorsed a proposed state law that will protect transgender Granite Staters from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations.

Tennessee

This week, the House State Government Subcommittee refused to pass HB 54, also known as the License to Discriminate Bill. The move is the latest in string of blistering defeats for anti-LGBT activists. This year, Tennessee lawmakers refused to pass other anti-LGBT measures, including two unconstitutional measures that would prohibit same sex marriage, and one that would prohibit transgender students from using the restroom that matches their gender identity.

While Tennesseans who support LGBT rights are elated by the outcomes, they are not out of the woods yet. Many of these bills are expected to be considered again next year.

Virginia

On Wednesday the Virginia House and Senate sustained vetoes of two anti-LGBT religious exemption bills, HB2025 and SB1324. Both would have permitted discrimination against LGBT Virginians and same-sex couples by taxpayer funded organizations or even public businesses as long as they claim their discrimination was based on sincerely held religious beliefs. Both bills are effectively dead for the year.


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