U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota has signed on with a Trump administration brief that asks the Supreme Court to legalize firing workers for being gay, lesbian or bisexual.
Lawyers for President Donald Trump's Justice Department late Friday, Aug. 23, filed an amicus brief that seeks to limit the reading of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans discrimination "because of sex." Some lower court rulings have found that targeting someone for their sexual orientation is an illegal form of "both sex discrimination and sex stereotyping under Title VII," according to BuzzFeedNews.
But the administration argues in its filing that "Title VII does not ... prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity," according to the Justice Department brief.
It continues, "Title VII prohibits 'sex' discrimination and the plain meaning of 'sex' is biological status as male or female, not sexual orientation or gender identity."
The administration recently made similar arguments in a brief it filed against transgender rights.
In simple language, the Trump administration and its supporters like Cramer want to allow discrimination against LGBTQ people, based simply on the fact they are LGBTQ. Federal lawyers working for Trump want the Supreme Court to roll back Civil Rights Act protections against Americans based on their sexual orientation or sexual identity.
Cramer is one of eight Republican senators and 40 Republican U.S. House members who signed on in support of the brief. The other senators were Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Mike Braun of Indiana, John Cornyn of Texas, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, James Lankford of Oklahoma and Mike Lee of Utah.
At the heart of the Trump administration's argument is that when Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the word "sex" was specifically included to mean "man or woman." The brief says Congress purposely did not include language meant to give protections to gay, lesbian or bisexual people.
The meaning of "sex," the brief argues, "is distinct from 'sexual orientation,' 'gender identity,' or 'transgender status,' as Congress’s actions since its enactment of Title VII confirm." Therefore, the brief says, courts that have ruled otherwise have stripped Congress of its policy-making role.
"Incredibly disappointing to see the Trump administration and Justice Department lawyers argue against equal treatment under the law," tweeted criminal justice journalist Chris Geidner. "These are a pair of appalling briefs that will go down in history as the gov’t siding against its people and in favor of allowing discrimination."
BuzzFeedNews said a Supreme Court ruling in the government's favor "could trigger cascading ramifications for LGBTQ rights. Limiting the scope of Title VII would assert that a raft of state and federal laws banning sex-based discrimination have no application for sexual orientation or gender identity, a ruling that would likely reach far beyond employment to other settings where sex discrimination is banned, including public schools."
This would, in some ways, put the rest of the United States on par with North Dakota, a state that offers no legal provisions that explicitly address discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Is that where the rest of America wants to be?