The 1964 Civil Rights Act made it federal law that: It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
Today, in a 6-3 Supreme Court decision, the majority ruling included LGBT employees or applicants as protected under this act in the Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia ruling. The SCOTUS blog summarizes the ruling as: “An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Christian ethicist Russell Moore brings up some interesting philosophical points with this decision. He writes “This will mean that legislators actually won’t know what they are voting to pass—because words might change cultural meaning dramatically between the time of passage and some future court case.”
If in the 1964 Title VII, “sex” now includes sexual orientation, it undermines the very meaning of language. That wasn’t what was meant when the law passed 56 years ago.
And even further removed from original meaning is the idea that gender identity was intended to be protected by Title VII. As Daniel Horowitz summarizes at Conservative Review: In a 6-3 opinion written by Justice Gorsuch, the court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Right act, which passed in 1964 before anyone could fathom transgenderism, applies to transgenderism and sexual orientation.
For Gorsuch: gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity are all applied under the Title VII term “sex.” It’s insanity.
Writing one of two dissenting opinions, Justice Brett Kavanaugh said:
If judges could rewrite laws based on their own policy views, or based on their own assessments of likely future legislative action, the critical distinction between legislative authority and judicial authority that undergirds the Constitution’s separation of powers would collapse, thereby threatening the impartial rule of law and individual liberty.
This case does feel like the judges legislated from the bench.
Am I saying that businesses should go out of their way to fire LGBT employees? I think that religious organizations who are influenced by moral values should be ensured the ability to hold employees to those values.
It further leads to concerns for churches and religious organizations. It’s concerning to me that courts could be heading down a path where they put civil rights ahead of religious rights and make it harder for religious organizations (not just churches but Christian schools, Christian hospitals, Christian adoption agencies) to hold to a standard where staff live according to the faith-values of the organization.