PUBLIC RIGHTS PROJECT BRINGS TOGETHER NEARLY 100 LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AND MAYORS IN SUPREME COURT AMICUS BRIEF SUPPORTING LGBT WORKERS
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (“Title VII”) prohibits workplace discrimination because of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear three cases that will determine whether Title VII’s protection against sex discrimination prohibits discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity. Public Rights Project (PRP) partnered with lead drafters in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and New York City Law Department, as well as Freedom for All Americans, to file a brief in all three cases. The brief, signed by nearly 100 cities, counties and mayors, highlights the impact of LGBT discrimination on local governments and their residents.
As amici, local governments from Los Angeles, California to Fayettville, Arkansas, shared insights about the ripple effects that LGBT workplace discrimination has--not only the overall well-being of LGBT people and their families--but also on the broader community and government infrastructure that depend on them. As “the level of government closest to the American people,” local governments “have seen firsthand the benefits to the entire community when the full scope of sex-based discrimination is prohibited.”
The brief counters narratives about the disruptiveness of workplace protections for lesbian, gay, and transgender people. Contrary to some assumptions, local government operations are not weakened by these protections. Instead, cities like Los Angeles and New York have found that protections for LGBT employees in their police and fire departments have improved effectiveness and enhanced relationships with their communities. For example, the Los Angeles Police Department, composed of nearly ten thousand sworn officers with a critical public-safety mission, has made clear the lesbian, gay, and transgender officers within its ranks “strengthen[ the] organization and help[ it] maintain safe, cohesive, and vibrant communities.” Moreover, extensive research has shown that non-discrimination laws lead to greater innovation in the private sector.
As providers of the primary safety net services in our nation, cities and counties often bear the consequences of the social, psychological, and economic injuries LGBT people experience. Employment discrimination exacerbates the already high rates of homelessness and poverty among LGBT teens, and disproportionate physical and mental health concerns for LGBT people recovering from trauma. The ripple effects run deep, impacting not only the person and their family, but their potential families. Same-sex couples, who are six times more likely to raise foster children than different-sex couples, make invaluable contributions by raising children who might otherwise have little or no family support.
“We are proud to support the work of local governments that are advocating and fighting for their LGBT residents,” says Jill Habig, founder and president of Public Rights Project.
“Cities and counties have valuable perspectives to offer about how legal decisions made at a national level impact our local communities,” added LiJia Gong, Staff Attorney for Public Rights Project. “We are proud to partner with cities, counties and local officials across the country to elevate the voices of their most vulnerable residents and bring critical insights to bear on the issues that directly affect the communities they serve,” she said.
Public Rights Project empowers state and local governments to protect the core rights and freedoms that define us as Americans by providing them with talent and resources to proactively enforce their residents’ legal rights. Learn more at https://www.publicrightsproject.org/.
Public Rights Project is a project of the Tides Center, a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan nonprofit organization.
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