The U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington, DC, early Monday, June 15, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
The U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington, DC, early Monday, June 15, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Wisconsin’s two openly gay members of Congress say vigilance still needed with Trump in the White House even after today’s win

Wisconsin’s two openly gay members of Congress said Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on employment rights for LGBTQ Americans is a “necessary step forward” but with President Trump in office there remains no shortage of battles against discrimination, whether in the private sector or even sanctioned by the government.

The Court ruled 6-3 that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bans job discrimination on the basis of sex.

Congressman Mark Pocan, D-Madison, wasted no time in saying the ruling is only one of many advancements needed in a time where he and others in the LGBTQ community do not have an ally in the White House. 

“Today’s Supreme Court decision is a necessary step forward for a nation that continues to fail to protect the LGBTQ+ community under a bigoted and prejudiced Trump administration,” Pocan said in a statement. “On the heels of recent murders of Black trans women—Riah Milton and Dominique “Rem’Mie” Fells—and the Trump’s administration decision to legalize healthcare discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, this ruling is monumental progress to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ people nationwide.

“We’re now protected from discrimination at our jobs, but we have much left to defend. From housing to healthcare, we need equity in all areas of American life. The House passed the Equality Act over a year ago, but the Senate has refused to affirm the rights of LGBTQ+ people in this country. I hope today’s Supreme Court decision encourages the Senate Majority Leader to do his job for once and pass legislation that could make LGBTQ+ equality the law of the land,” Pocan concluded.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who in 1998 became the first openly gay woman elected to Congress, also pushed for Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to stop sitting on the bill.

“The #SCOTUS 6-3 decision is a huge step forward for #LGBTQ equality in America,” she said via Twitter. “We must keep marching for full equality for every #LGBTQ American across our country and work to pass the #EqualityAct in the Senate.”

The majority opinion was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, a jurist many see as having attained a spot on the nation’s highest court through the partisan maneuverings of McConnell who refused to hold hearings on President Obama’s choice of a nominee so that Donald Trump could instead name a successor to Antonin Scalia.

“An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court. “Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.

Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas dissented.

Reaction from state level lawmakers included a statement from Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Janesville, one of four openly gay members of the Legislature.

“Wisconsin has banned workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation since 1982, and this ruling now ensures that Wisconsin workers cannot be discriminated against due to their gender identity,” Spreitzer said. “While many businesses in our state already have policies that should protect workers against discrimination, this ruling ensures that every worker in every workplace has that protection. No one should have to worry that their employer can fire them for being who they are or loving who they love.”