Rep. John Lewis Responds to Supreme Court Decision on Gay and Transgender Civil Rights

Press Release

Date: June 15, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in a 6-3 decision that firing an individual for being gay or transgender is a violation of title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia decision addressed three cases where an employer filed a long-time employee based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In the aftermath of the Children's Crusade, the March on Washington, the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Jr., and protests, Congress adopted and President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to reaffirm, clarify, and strengthen the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Title VII of the law forbids discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in employment. In reviewing the merits of the arguments to terminate these employees, the Supreme Court noted that, "Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids." Upon reviewing the decision, Congressman Lewis made the following statement:

"Today's Supreme Court Decision restores my hope in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s conviction that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

"Although I am encouraged by this opinion, we all know that much work remains. It is impossible to ignore that deeply rooted structural inequality, xenophobia, and bias continues to permeate our nation, and LGBTQIA+ people of color -- especially transgender women -- experience violence, discrimination, and socio-economic disparities at alarming rates. As Bayard Rustin, the engineer of the March on Washington reminded us, "We are all one, and if we don't know, we will learn it the hard way.'

"The work that remains is on display throughout Metro Atlanta and in every community across our country, and we must be clear-eyed, organized, and focused because the opposition is resolute and determined. Every day, news of human and civil rights abuses threaten the very fabric of our nation -- some make national headlines, while others are executed from the shadows. For example, just last Friday in defiance to overwhelming public consensus, the Administration issued a license to hate and discriminate when it approved a rule that overturned key protections in health programs that prevented discrimination for marginalized populations, including LGBTQIA+ people, women, individuals with disabilities, and non-proficient English speakers.

"Today, we applaud the Supreme Court's reaffirmation of what we know to be right and just as we strive towards a more perfect and equal union for all -- not just a select few. The hard reality is that each and every one of us must dig deep and rededicate ourselves to the work ahead. No stone should be left unturned, and no one should be left behind as we seek to redeem and reclaim the soul of our nation."