The surviving plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court case that determined whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace on Monday said he is “ecstatic” by the justices’ ruling in his favor.
“When somebody was finally able to put up the first page and only part of that, and I saw the very first few words, I pretty much went into shock,” Gerald Bostock told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview from his home in Georgia, referring to the part of the ruling he read on SCOTUSblog shortly after its release. “I was like, ‘Oh my Gosh, we did it.”
Bostock spoke with the Blade hours after the Supreme Court in a 6-3 ruling said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex,” wrote Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch for the majority. “Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”
Bostock in 2013 was fired from his job overseeing the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program in Clayton County, Ga., after his supervisor learned he had joined a gay recreational softball league.
Bostock in a 2016 lawsuit alleges he lost his job because he is gay. Bostock two years later petitioned the Supreme Court to hear his case after lower courts ruled against him.
The justices last October heard oral arguments in Bostock’s case and two others brought by Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman who alleged she was fired from her job as the director of a Michigan funeral home in 2013 after she announced her transition, and Don Zarda, a skydiver who claimed the New York company for which he worked terminated him in 2010 because of his sexual orientation. The Supreme Court consolidated the three cases into one.
Zarda died in 2014 during a BASE jumping accident. Stephens passed away on May 12.
“I didn’t ask for any of this, but I was willing to be the one to stand up alongside Aimee Stephens and Don Zarda to carry our fight all the way to the Supreme Court,” said Bostock.
“I never would have imagined I would have lost my dream job for the mere fact that I joined a gay recreational softball league,” he added. “That was my dream job, a job I loved, the job I was good at and had great success at.”
The Supreme Court issued its ruling three days after the Trump administration announced it finalized its decision to remove trans protections from the Affordable Care Act. The ruling also coincides with the coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide protests against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
A white Atlanta police officer on Friday shot to death Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man, at a Wendy’s restaurant during a sobriety check. The Atlanta Police Department has fired the officer and the city’s police chief has resigned.
Bostock noted the aforementioned events when he spoke to the Blade about Monday’s Supreme Court ruling.
“Ironically, one of the gay symbols is the rainbow and after a bad storm we get that reminder of hope and goodwill,” he said. “I’m just hopeful that’s going to be the case here because everything going on in the world today and in our country today just underscores the fact that we have a lot more hard work to do and this is just the groundwork of many more steps and actions that need to take place.”
Bostock told the Blade that he will consult with his lawyers about the next steps in his case. He also said he will support efforts to enact a hate crimes law in Georgia and to pass the Equality Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal civil rights laws.
“(There’s) a lot of work ahead, that’s work that I’m willing to continue doing,” said Bostock. “I want to lend my voice to these efforts so that we’re all treated equality.”
“In this world today, there is absolutely no room for discrimination or racism,” he added.