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What’s at stake? LGBT discrimination cases at the Supreme Court

A funeral director in Michigan fired for being transgender. A skydiving instructor in New York fired for being gay. A child welfare services coordinator in Georgia fired because of his sexual orientation.

On October 8th, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear three cases that have the potential to drastically change the status of LGBT equality in the United States. We’re grateful to our legal advocates at the ACLU and Lambda Legal for all they’re doing to prepare for the arguments and to defend vital legal protections for LGBT workers.

Our team at MAP wanted to share some materials that may be helpful as you follow the cases.

It goes beyond just being fired

On face value, these cases are about whether companies can legally fire someone for being LGBT. And that’s shocking enough. But on a deeper level, the cases are about whether LGBT people will have equal opportunity or whether they may be treated as inferior citizens throughout all aspects of daily life.

What’s at stake?

This new infographic can be useful to understand what’s at stake.

These three cases will determine whether LGBT people will continue to have protections under federal nondiscrimination law, or whether it will be legal under federal law for employers to fire someone simply for being LGBT. If the Court rules that LGBT people are not protected by existing federal workplace protections, anti-LGBT opponents will rapidly use the same legal reasoning to work to attempt to overturn critical federal protections in housing, healthcare, credit, education and more.

In short, LGBTQ people could soon find themselves living in a nation where federal law says it is legal for them to be denied a job, fired, discriminated against at school, denied a loan, rejected by a doctor, and evicted from an apartment, simply because they are LGBT.

Our 2019 brief provides more information about the potential outcomes of the cases and their impacts.

The infographic below can be a helpful tool to understand the “domino” effect of a loss, where protections not only in employment, but in healthcare, education, housing, and credit could be at risk.

The infographic below shows the percentage of people by race living in states without protections who would lose federal workplace protections if the Supreme Court rules that Title VII doesn’t protect LGBT workers:

Take action

We need to be mobilizing NOW to ensure that every one of our federal and state representatives understands that passing anti-discrimination protections is an urgent and top priority.  We cannot wait for the outcome of this case to start mobilizing: every single person who is LGBT or who cares about LGBT people must engage now. 

Don’t forget: our equality maps provide a helpful picture of the existing patchwork of legal protections at the state level, and what would remain if LGBT people can no longer seek recourse through the EEOC for employment discrimination.

Together, the cases have the potential to take America backward. Now is the time to reiterate the importance of nondiscrimination for LGBT people and all people.

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NEW REPORT — Where We Call Home: LGBT People of Color in Rural America

Media coverage often portrays rural America as singularly white, conservative and working-class. Yet at least 10 million people of color, including LGBT people of color, call rural America home.

Today, MAP released a new report, Where We Call Home: LGBT People of Color in Rural America, which examines the unique challenges of LGBT people of color in rural America and highlights distinct experiences across different communities of color. As the second publication in the Where We Call Home series, this report details how the structural challenges of rural life amplify acceptance of or discrimination against LGBT people of color. 

Click here to read the exclusive Advocate op-ed about the report.

MAP is thrilled to release this report in conjunction with the LGBTQ Presidential Forum—hosted by The Advocate, One Iowa, the Cedar Rapids Gazette, and GLAAD—which will be streamed live on MSNBC. Tune in and see MAP’s policy work take center stage along with the Democratic Party candidates. 

This report offers extensive new findings on LGBT people of color in rural communities, where discrimination based on race and immigration status is compounded by discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Some key findings of the report include:

  • People of color, including those in rural areas, are more likely than white people to identify as LGBT: people of color comprise 42% of the national LGBT population, compared to 36% of the total U.S. population.
  • LGBT people of color in rural states are especially vulnerable to discrimination. Overall, rural states are significantly less likely than majority urban states to have vital nondiscrimination protections, and are also more likely to have harmful, discriminatory laws. 
  • LGBT people of color experience similar or higher rates of both poverty and unemployment compared to both non-LGBT people of color and white people. 
  • Smaller populations in rural communities mean any “difference” is more noticeable. For LGBT people of color, increased visibility as both people of color and as LGBT people in rural communities may mean further vulnerability.
  • LGBT people of color have fewer support structures and resources that accept them both as a person of color and someone who is LGBT. The relative social and geographic isolation of rural areas can compound this problem. For example, LGBT-focused programs in rural areas, if available at all, may not fully recognize or be equipped to support people who are both LGBT and a person of color, and programs for people of color in rural areas may not be accepting of people of color who are also LGBT.

Click here to view infographics pulled from Where We Call Home: LGBT People of Color in Rural America.

Because LGBT people of color may experience discrimination based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and their race or ethnicity, passing nondiscrimination protections at the federal, state, and local level is vital to ensure full participation in all aspects of life. Where We Call Home: LGBT People of Color in Rural America concludes with recommendations for community organizations, educators, healthcare providers and policymakers to address the specific needs of LGBT people of color in rural communities.

The report is released in partnership with the Equality Federation, the National Black Justice Coalition, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

TAKE ACTION:

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BiWeek 2019

This week (September 16-23) is #BiWeek 2019! This is a week to celebrate the B in LGBT and to raise up the voices and experiences of bisexual people.

Despite a growing understanding and acceptance of the LGBT community and increased legal protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the experiences and realities of bisexual people has largely been invisible. Did you know bisexual people comprise about half (52%) of LGB people in the United States? Did you also know that violence, poverty, discrimination, and poor physical and mental health outcomes within the bisexual population are often at rates higher than their lesbian and gay peers?

Far too often, bisexual people are frequently swept into the greater lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) community, as their specific disparities are made invisible within data about the LGB community as a whole. That’s why, in 2016, MAP released a groundbreaking report Invisible Majority: The Disparities Facing Bisexual People and How to Remedy Them, which focuses on the “invisible majority” of the LGBT community: dvthe nearly five million adults in the U.S. who identify as bisexual and the millions more who have sexual or romantic attraction to or contact with people of more than one gender.

Since then, MAP has released additional reports looking at bisexual older adults, bisexual transgender people and more. For #BiWeek 2019, check out MAP’s resources that provide an overview into the lives of bisexual people, including an introduction to the issues facing bisexual people.

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Trump Administration Wants to Allow Taxpayer-Funded Organizations to Use Religious Litmus Test for Employees – Act Now!

The Trump Administration has proposed a rule that would give federal contractors a license to discriminate against their workers.

Under current federal law and existing presidential executive orders, federal contractors can’t discriminate against their workers based on race, color, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The proposed rule would greatly expand the existing religious exemption for contractors to include for-profit companies and nearly any contractor who claims a religious objection to a worker. This means that a for-profit federal company could create a religious litmus test for workers, fire all workers who can’t meet the standards, and continue to receive federal contract dollars. This proposed rule would put religious minorities, LGBT people, single parents, women who use contraception or get an abortion, and many more at risk.

Religious freedom is a fundamental American value and it should not be used to harm or discriminate against others. And companies that receive federal contract dollars should not be permitted to discriminate against their workers. More than 20% of the U.S. workforce is employed by a federal contractor and these workers would be at risk for being fired.

The administration issued the rule and gave an abnormally short comment period, which ends on Monday, September 16. Share your concern about allowing taxpayer dollars to be used to discriminate by submitting a comment to the Department of Labor.

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Fashion Industry Leaders Pledge to Be Open to All

Tapestry was joined by over 50 fashion houses and brands, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion and the Open to All campaign, to make a powerful statement about the industry’s commitment to fostering inclusivity and protecting equality on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019 in New York. (Loren Matthew/AP Images for Tapestry, Inc.)

Today, Tapestry Inc. (a leading New York-based house of modern luxury accessories and lifestyle brands including Coach, kate spade new york and Stuart Weitzman), over 50 fashion houses and brands, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), and the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion joined Open to All, making a powerful statement about the fashion industry’s commitment to fostering inclusivity and embracing equality. Never before have so many fashion houses joined together in a single, unified campaign that sends a message that everyone is welcome, valued and respected.

This collective effort was inspired by Tapestry’s work with the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion. Founding Open to All signatories and fellow CEO Action members Levi Strauss & Co., Old Navy, and Gap Inc. joined Tapestry as they signed the Open to All pledge alongside more than 50 fashion houses and brands (see below for the full list of participating brands). We are grateful to Tapestry Inc., which partnered with Open to All to recruit these brands to join our campaign. Click here to read the press release.

This is a moment where fashion industry giants across America are sending a message: no matter who you are, where you’re from, what you look like, or what style and expression makes you feel like you, you are welcome.  

We encourage all Open to All public education coalition members to please share this historic announcement out over social media. Below are some graphics and sample posts to share.

In the almost two years since Open to All’s inception, and thanks to the leadership of the Open to All coalition, we have had over 5,000 large and small businesses sign the business pledge. Tapestry has worked beyond the walls of their stores to bring the fashion industry together to join the growing Open to All campaign. Open to All continues to build a thriving, competitive, and inclusive America where customers and employees are valued, respected and welcomed regardless of who they are. Today’s announcement exemplifies the spirit of Open to All and creates true transformation.

What We Know About LGBT People with Disabilities

Today marks the 29th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a landmark civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability in nearly every area of life, from work to housing and public accommodations and education. The ADA also ensures that people living with HIV aren’t discriminated against.  

New research shows that LGBT people are more likely to have a disability than the general population.For example, in a survey of more than 26,000 transgender people, 39% reported having a disability.  Andone in three lesbians and one in three bisexual women report having a disability in a population-based survey in Washington.  

As the country reflects on what work remains for the full inclusion of people with disabilities in America, the Movement Advancement Project, in partnership with the Center for American Progress’s Disability Justice Initiative and LGBT Research and Communications Project, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and the National LGBTQ Task Force, released a short summary of what we know about LGBT people with disabilities.  

U.S. Supreme Court Considers Three Cases That Could Take America Backward

Did you know that there are three huge cases on the U.S. Supreme Court’s docket for this fall about whether LGBT people are worthy of equal opportunity or whether they may be treated as legally inferior citizens?

Did you know that there are three significant cases on the U.S. Supreme Court’s docket for this fall about whether LGBT people are worthy of equal opportunity or whether they may be treated as legally inferior citizens?

The Court will hear oral arguments in October about whether LGBT people will continue to have protections under federal nondiscrimination law, or whether it would be legal under federal law for employers to fire LGBT people just for who they are or whom they love. These cases will impact the ability of LGBT people to provide for themselves and their families.

Today MAP released a new brief, “Can LGBT People Be Legally Fired? U.S. Supreme Court Considers Three Cases That Could Take America Backward” highlighting what’s at stake with these cases.

http://www.lgbtmap.org/scotus-2019-titlevii

Together, the cases have the potential to take America backward. That’s because if the Court rules that LGBT people are not protected by existing federal workplace protections, anti-LGBT opponents will rapidly use the same legal reasoning to work to attempt to overturn critical federal protections in housing, healthcare, credit, education and more. In short, LGBT people could soon find themselves living in a nation where federal law says it is legal for them to be denied a job, fired, discriminated against at school, denied a loan, rejected by a doctor, and evicted from an apartment, simply because they are LGBT.

Now is the time to reiterate the importance of nondiscrimination for LGBT people and all people. That’s why MAP is releasing a new brief today that describes the cases, how the Court could rule, and what the implications of the Court’s rulings could mean for LGBT people not just at work but in all areas of life.


Understanding Issues Facing LGBT People in the U.S.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, MAP, in partnership with the Center for American Progress, GLAAD, and the Human Rights Campaign, is releasing an updated edition of Understanding Issues Facing LGBT People in the U.S. Led by transgender women, drag queens, homeless LGBT teens, lesbians, gay men, and allies, many of whom were people of color, the Stonewall Riots, which came in response to an early morning police raid of the Stonewall Inn in New York City targeting LGBT people, were a key turning point in the fight for LGBT equality in the United States.    

Fifty years later, much has been accomplished, yet much still remains to be done. The landmark marriage equality ruling by the United States Supreme Court in 2015 allowed same-sex couples to marry nationwide, yet the federal government is arguing that employers should be allowed to legally fire LGBT people, and that adoption agencies should be able to keep kids in foster care rather than allow them to be adopted by qualified, loving, same-sex parents.   

This primer highlights the major areas in which equality as advanced for LGBT people, as well as the continued legal barriers to fully participating in American life. It is no longer a crime to be gay, yet many LGBT people still experience discrimination when simply going about their daily lives—whether eating at a diner with their families or friends, trying to obtain safe and inclusive healthcare, or interacting with the criminal justice system. Just last month, MAP released a new map showing which states ban the use of so-called “gay panic” and “trans panic” defenses in court. These defenses are legal strategies in which a person who has committed a violent crime against an LGBT person will claim that the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity caused the attacker to commit the crime. 

As we honor the passion and activism of those at Stonewall 50 years ago and those who continue to fight for full equality to this day, MAP is fully committed to ensuring that all people have a fair chance to pursue health and happiness, earn a living, take care of the ones they love, be safe in their communities, and participate in civic life.  

Here are a few ways you can take action:  

LGBT Policy Spotlight: LGBT Equality in the U.S. Territories

The United States’ long history of territorial expansion has resulted in a truly complicated system of governance for territory residents, where even the U.S. Constitution doesn’t always apply. Laws and policies across the U.S. are, at best, a confusing patchwork of legal protections, and nowhere is that truer than for the residents of the U.S. territories, as detailed in the first comprehensive review of LGBT laws and policies in the five populated U.S. territories.  

Today, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), in partnership with Lambda Legal, released a new report, LGBT Policy Spotlight: LGBT Equality in the U.S. Territories, focused on the status of LGBT equality for the more than 3.5 million residents of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

For more than 10 years, MAP has tracked state-level LGBT laws and policies across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. With the release of this report, MAP is now actively tracking LGBT-related laws and policies in the five populated U.S. territories. The Equality Maps can be found here: http://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps.  

MAP classifies various laws and policies that impact LGBT people into two broad categories: sexual orientation-related laws and policies, and gender identity-related laws and policies. Examined together, these polices are combined to calculate an “Overall Policy Tally,” which counts the number of positive LGBT laws and policies, as well as negative laws and the policies, in each territory or state that help drive equality for LGBT people. 

  • Puerto Rico has the highest overall LGBT policy tally of the five territories (21.75 out of a potential 40.5) as well as the highest sexual orientation policy tally (11.5/20) and gender identity policy tally (10.25/20.5). Based on its LGBT-related laws and policies, Puerto Rico has a similar overall LGBT policy tally as Delaware and Maine.  
  • Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands all have a “low” LGBT policy tally.  American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands fall between North Dakota, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina (0.5/40.5), while the U.S. Virgin Islands (5.5/40.5) falls between Arizona and Kentucky. Guam (7/40.5) falls between Kentucky and Indiana.  
  • Guam has a “medium” sexual orientation policy tally identical to that of Pennsylvania and Michigan, while the other three territories have “low” sexual orientation policy tallies. Notably, both Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands have “negative” gender identity policy tallies similar to Arizona and Alabama, respectively. American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands have “low” gender identity policy tallies. 

In addition, the report looks at seven broad categories including relationship and parental recognition, non-discrimination laws, LGBT youth laws and policies, healthcare laws and policies, criminal justice laws, and accurate identity documents. Within these categories, the report reviews the more than 39 laws and policies that impact LGBT people and their families.  

By tracking LGBT laws and policies in the territories, MAP will advance increased understanding of the territories as a whole, and of LGBT equality within these regions. 

TAKE ACTION:  

Support LGBT People in Rural America!

As legislative sessions start to wrap up, we’re taking stock of both inspiring progress made and heartbreaking setbacks. While we have been able to defeat anti-equality measures that target vulnerable communities including women, minorities, people of faith, and LGBT people, we also know that 26 states still lack inclusive nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people, and this administration is staunchly committed to eliminating protections at the federal level.

For LGBT people in rural areas, the lack of protections can be devastating.

To shine a spotlight on this unique impact, MAP, in partnership with the Equality Federation, the National Black Justice Coalition and the National Center for Lesbian Rights released Where We Call Home: LGBT People in Rural America, which examines the structural differences in rural life and their impact on LGBT people in rural areas. LGBT people in rural communities are both more vulnerable to discrimination and less able to respond to its harmful effects.

MAP also released several supplemental resources to help advocates and allies take action, including a recommendation series for policymakers, healthcare providers, educators, employers and more.

And to increase the on-the-ground support for LGBT people in rural communities, we’ve created a new community resource flyer designed to be printed and posted in public places for rural LGBT people and allies to access. The community flyer provides a space for local service providers to fill in local, LGBT-supportive resources, as well as online and telephone supports. The flyer links to this page on our website www.lgbtmap.org/rural-lgbt-resources.

Now is your turn to take action. How can you help support LGBT people in rural America?

  • Share these resources on social media using #RuralLGBT.
  • Print, fill-out and hang the flyer on community resources boards where LGBT people can access it in your rural town or region.
  • Share the flier and the recommendations with organizations or groups that could help get the flyer into the hands of rural communities to print and display.
  • Donate to support MAP’s work to advance equality for LGBT wherever they live. www.lgbtmap.org/donate