DOJ: Sexual orientation not protected under Title VII

Participants surrounded by Rainbow flags and balloons fill the street when NYC Pride Week's annual Pride March parade moves down Fifth Avenue in New York City on June 25, 2017. The first March was held in 1970 and has since become an annual civil rights demonstration. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

July 27 (UPI) — The U.S. Department of Justice has filed court documents arguing that a provision of the 1964 Civil Rights Act does not protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the declaration in an amicus brief over a New York case in which a former skydiving instructor argues he was fired because he disclosed he was gay to a female customer, whose husband then complained to his employer.

In the amicus brief, the Justice Department concluded that “Title VII does not prohibit discrimination because of sexual orientation.”

“The sole question here is whether, as a matter of law, Title VII reaches sexual orientation discrimination. It does not, as has been settled for decades. Any efforts to amend Title VII’s scope should be directed to Congress rather than the courts,” the Justice Department wrote.

The Center, an LGBT advocacy group, on Thursday said it “denounces this deplorable act of aggression against all LGBT people” following news of the amicus brief.

Title VII prohibits workplace discrimination due to sex, race, color, national origin and religion. In April, the federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled the Civil Rights Act extended protections for homosexuals.

“Any discomfort, disapproval or job decision based on the fact that the complainant — woman or man — dresses differently, speaks differently, or dates or marries a same-sex partner, is a reaction purely and simply based on sex,” Chief Judge Diane Wood then wrote for the court.

The amicus brief is the first time the Justice Department under President Donald Trump has legally positioned itself on Title VII’s scope as it relates to sexual orientation. Former President Barack Obama‘s administration previously said Title VII extended protections to the LGBT community.

The amicus brief was filed the same day Trump said his government will not “accept or allow” transgender people to serve in the U.S. military, “in any capacity.”


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