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Local LGBTQ community celebrates U.S. Supreme Court ruling 

click to enlarge Rochester Pride Festival, 2017

FILE PHOTO

Rochester Pride Festival, 2017

Milo Primeaux, a civil rights attorney who specializes in LGBTQ matters, said he cried when he read the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in favor of workplace protections for LGBTQ workers on Monday.

The ruling, he said, was a victory for the movement.

“This community has so historically and systematically been kicked down and oppressed by the government and by communities in so many myriad ways,” said Primeaux, who led the LGBT Rights Project at the Empire Justice Center in Rochester.

Read the opinion here.

The court ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex. The court was divided 6-3, with Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Trump's first appointee to the court, writing the majority opinion. The opinion was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and the court's four liberal justices.

"Today," Gorsuch wrote, "we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear." He found such discrimination is barred by the language in the 1964 law that bans discrimination in employment based on race, religion, national origin or sex. The decision is a huge victory for the LGBTQ community and a major loss for the Trump administration, which had sided with employers in three cases before the court.

The ruling came days after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services revoked health care and health insurance protections for LGBTQ people.

Transgender activist Penny Sterling said that she found that move deeply troubling.

"President Trump is taking away from us this legal right to having our lives saved, having our health care taken care of,” Sterling said. “Especially during a pandemic, it just seems like the cruelty is the point here."

Primeaux, who said while this is a major victory after decades of advocacy, there is more work to be done to achieve justice for all people in the LGBTQ community, especially people of color and those who are disabled.

Includes reporting by CITY staff.

Noelle E.C. Evans is a reporter for WXXI News, a media partner of CITY. She can be reached at nevans@wxxi.org.
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