As Supreme Court Considers LGBTQ Rights Cases, Udall and Heinrich Support Civil Rights Protections For Workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 9, 2019) – U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich signed an amicus brief supporting equal rights for LGBTQ employees, in three cases where high-performing employees were fired once their bosses discovered their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Supreme Court began oral arguments this week in three cases—Zarda v. Altitude Express Inc.Bostock v. Clayton County, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC & Aimee Stephens—about the interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as it relates to sex discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Court’s decisions in these cases will have a nationwide impact, deciding whether federal law allows employers to take action against LGBTQ employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“It’s very simple: no one should be discriminated against – in the workplace or anywhere else – for their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Udall. “LGBTQ Americans should not have to live in fear that they will be fired or face repercussions because of who they are or who they love. While we have made great strides as a nation, we have a long way to go to deliver on the promise of equality for all – and the Supreme Court must not take us backwards in this fight.”

“I am proud of New Mexico’s LGBTQ community and the progress we’ve made in the march for equality,” said Heinrich. “We can’t allow hatred and bigotry to thwart this progress or turn back the clock – especially in the workplace. These cases before the Supreme Court will test how well we can live up to our nation’s principle of equal protection under the law. No American should be fired or discriminated against simply for being who they are. Regardless of how the Court rules, I will continue fighting to pass the Equality Act to ensure all LGBTQ Americans have explicit legal protection against discrimination.”

Udall and Heinrich are cosponsors of the bipartisan, bicameral Equality Act, legislation that would codify explicit federal civil rights protections for LGBTQ Americans in public accommodations, employment, housing and more. The House successfully passed the legislation in May, and the senators are pushing for the Senate to take up the bill.

In the amicus brief, signers support the claims of discrimination, and urge the Supreme Court to clarify the law to reflect what is already widely recognized: that LGBTQ Americans are protected against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity under Title VII because sexual orientation and gender identity are inherently an aspect of a person’s “sex.” In addition to Udall and Heinrich, there were 113 House signers and 38 Senate signers of the amicus brief, which was led by U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-01).