GAY RIGHTS

& EQUALITY

The US Supreme Court made it clear in its recent ruling on Bostock v. Clayton County - members of the LGBTQIA+ community are protected from discrimination under Title VII language that protects from sex-based discrimination in employment. This interpretation of sex-based discrimination will hopefully be adopted across all sex-based laws, ensuring that individual equality is recognized and protected throughout our legal code. 

 

While we can dream that this ruling will in some way close the book on discrimination by gender identity or sexual orientation under the law, reality is not such a rosy picture. We are not done with the fight for equal rights, neither in terms of sexual orientation and gender identity, nor in the continuing fight for equality for all races, colors, religions, sexes, or national origins, or other groups which are found to require protection in the future. 

 

In any or all of these fights, the Judiciary could choose to reverse itself, the Legislature could find new language to restrict rights in another fashion, or the Executive could modify its actions and rules to enable continued discrimination under the guise of other policy. On top of this, systemic societal discrimination outside of the structure of government is a critical issue.

 

Besides the newly-won equality within the designation of ‘sex’ for gender identity and sexual orientation, we continue to falter in our commitment to equalities which have been formally recognized for decades:

 

  • Race and Color: Our nation must continue to strive to heal the scars of slavery and Jim Crow. These inequities combine with racial and color-based prejudices to cause wide rifts in our society. These rifts cause severe disadvantages for those who are not in the white majority - including critical issues with how law enforcement treats people based on race or color.

  • Religion: Religious minorities continue to see their beliefs discriminated against, and there is no consistent recognition of the rights of the growing portion of the population who choose to say ‘none of the above.’

  • Sex / Gender: Trans and cis women continue to experience major instances of discrimination, varying from sexual harrassment to workplace rights to the management of healthcare. Men have largely been the beneficiaries of many of these inequalities, but also deserve to share in some advancements (e.g. any formal maternity leave should include paternity leave).

  • National Origin: Immigrants who have worked hard to bring themselves and their families to a new life as residents or citizens of the United States continue to fight to be included in their new homeland. In addition, people who originate from the Indigenous tribes that pre-dated European Colonization continue to fight for rights to shrinking portions of a land that was once entirely theirs.

Part of Dana Ferguson's role in Congress will be to fight for the equality and equity of individuals based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), and national origin. Whoever a person is, their identity should be protected, and there should be no consequences to having a given identity, whether those consequences be legal or otherwise. 

 

Separately, Dana will fight for the rights of those who wish to express different opinions from the above, not to restrict them. The caveat being that, while legal consequences to expression are limited by the protections of our First Amendment, there are societal consequences which are not protected therein - the First Amendment does not protect anyone from having the opinions of others expressed in return.

 

These two responsibilities seem at odds, but it is important for them to be fought for together.

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