Courtesy of Creative Commons

By Anissa Gardizy

The Supreme Court appears to be divided over whether the federal law prohibits occupational discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The court is looking at Title Vll of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made it illegal for employers to discriminate because of a person’s sex. They must decide whether or not this also covers transgender or sexual orientation status.

Some court conservatives argued yesterday that the idea of sexual orientation was not in mind when the 1964 civil rights law was passed. Justice Samuel Alito said the issue at hand was a different policy issue than the one congressed addressed 55 years ago. Justice Neil Gorsuch seemed to be concerned over the “massive social upheaval that would” ensue if the court agreed that the law covered gay and transgender employees.

The absence of retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy could play a large role in the court’s rulings. Kennedy was the writer for major gay rights decision from the past 20 years. Kennedy was replaced by Trump-nominee Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who asked one question during the two hour hearing.

The plaintiffs in the case are Gerald Bostock, a former child welfare coordinator; Doland Zarda, a former skydiving instructor who died in 2014 but it represented by family members; and Aimee Stephen, a former funeral home worker. The court’s rulings are likely to be made by next year.