LGBT Activists Outside Supreme Court: ‘Trans Women Are Women’

By Kharen Martinez Murcia | October 9, 2019 | 4:43pm EDT
Demonstrators in favour of LGBT rights rally outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, October 8, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

( -- While the Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday about whether sex discrimination, as codified in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, also applies to sexually fluid people – intersex, transgender -- activists protested outside the court proclaiming that sex is not based on biology.

LGBT activists yelled, “trans women are women” and had several speakers lecture on gender diversity. On the other side, the conservative group Concerned Women of America pressed that changing the meaning of “sex” in the Civil Rights Act “would greatly undermine the women's movement.” They held signs that read, "Sex is not Gender."

The case before the high court is R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. At Harris Funeral Homes, a male employee, who works with grieving family members, decided to identify as a transgender woman (Aimee Stephens) and wear women’s clothes. He was fired by the owner, Thomas Rost.

Funeral home owner Tom Rost speaks outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, October 8, 2019. Thomas Rost, owner of RG & GR Harris Funeral Homes in Garden City, Michigan, is at the center of a case involving allegations of transgender discrimination by a former employee. Born a boy 58 years ago, Aimee Stephens worked for the Detroit funeral home for six years before telling her employer she wanted to be issued a female uniform. Two weeks later, she was fired by her boss, Thomas Rost, who said: "This is not going to work." In defending his decision, Rost cited his Christian values and the need to avoid upsetting customers in mourning.(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

As explained by Rost’s attorneys, the Alliance Defending Freedom: “Harris Funeral Homes declined to allow a male funeral director to violate the company’s sex-specific dress code by dressing and presenting as a woman when working with its clients—the family and friends of deceased loved ones.

“Unelected federal bureaucrats used the funeral home as a test case, convincing a lower court to rewrite the meaning of ‘sex’ discrimina­tion and reject what the public and the U.S. Supreme Court have understood it to mean for more than half a century.

“ADF is asking the Supreme Court to reverse the lower court’s rewriting of federal law, declare that Americans can rely on what the law says, and forbid unelected government officials from changing the law to illegitimately accomplish what they have been unable to achieve through Congress.”

Outside the court with supporters from the CWA, Rost said he “spent a couple of weeks thinking about what the employee’s proposal meant for everyone involved…. [W]e created the dress code decades before for the benefit of the [grieving] families with whom we interact. ”

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination by employers against employees based on sex, race, color, national origin and religion.

EEOC supporters in the case say “Harris Homes violated Title VII by firing Ms. Stephens because she did not conform to its sex stereotypes.”

Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America, said, “Will a majority of the justices violate the separation of powers by rewriting Title VII to enact their preferred policy choices by judicial decree? Will they punish a business for not implementing policies that did not exist prior to this case?

US actress and LGBTQ+ advocate Laverne Cox speaks to demonstrators in favour of LGBT rights rally outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, October 8, 2019, as the Court holds oral arguments in three cases dealing with workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

John Bursch, who serves as Rost’s attorney, told the crowd that “everyone should be able to agree, no matter their orientation or their identity, that Americans have to be able to rely on the law the way that it is written. Unelected government officials cannot just impose their own policy preferences in derogation of Americans and business rights.

The pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign said in a statement, “The Trump-Pence administration, however, has recently attempted to redefine federal sex discrimination through regulations in an effort to erase protections for transgender people, and has asked the Supreme Court to reverse course and bar LGBTQ people from receiving federal non-discrimination protections.”

“The Supreme Court’s decision in these cases could effectively decide whether to solidify or take away non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people under federal civil rights laws — which prohibit sex discrimination in contexts ranging from employment to housing, healthcare, and education,” said the HRC.

Dr. Patrick Lee at the Center for Bioethics at Franciscan University said of the case, “the topic of transgenderism is clouded in misinformation and confusion, and the Supreme Court should not add to that by promoting the false idea that sex is merely subjective.”  

“Everyone should be treated with respect and love,” he said. “At the same time, making a protected class of people who struggle with their biological sex or their gender identity (their perception or expression of their sex) isn’t the answer.”

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