The US Department of Justice argued in federal court this week that employers should be able to fire people for being gay.
The case currently being considered involves skydiving company Altitude Express. Former instructor, Donald Zarda, claimed he was fired in 2010 because he is gay. His lawyers argued that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects the LGBT community from discrimination; the US Department of Justice recently filed a brief saying it does not.
"Employers under Title VII are permitted to consider employees’ out-of-work sexual conduct," argued Hashim Mooppan
, the Justice Department lawyer, on Tuesday. "There is a common sense, intuitive difference between sex and sexual orientation.” (Is this the "it's not because he's gay but because he has gay sex" argument?)
Interestingly, the US government, in the form of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, was already involved in the court case. Since the beginning, it has argued that gays and lesbian cannot be discriminated against. The DOJ decided to muddy the waters by taking the counter-position. (You can thank Jeff Session and Donald Trump for that.)
Judge Rosemary Pooler described it as “a little bit awkward” for the two government agencies to be on opposing sides.
A lower court already found in favor of Altitude Express, stating that Title VII does not protect LBGT workers. A decision in April at the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, however, ruled that the provision does cover sexual orientation.
The DOJ's involvement in this case is significant; if the case makes it all the way to the US Supreme Court, the Department of Justice would represent the official government position on the matter, and it is making it clear exactly what side it supports.
Anyone out there still think Trump is the most gay-friendly President ever?