By Wesley Whistle, QKY Contributor
Governor Matt Bevin is at it again. After calling Kim Davis “an inspiration to American Children” and filing a brief arguing a company shouldn’t have to make Pride shirts, Bevin is attacking LGBT rights again. Now, Governor Bevin is arguing that companies are allowed to fire someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
This week 16 states—including Bevin—filed a brief with the United States Supreme Court asking to overturn a decision by an appeals court that redefines the word “sex” in federal law to include “gender identity.” The Civil Rights Act of 1964 says it is unlawful for employers “to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” This case was brought when a transgender woman said she was illegally fired by a funeral home in Michigan while transitioning from male to female because she is protected under this act.
The states arguing against this are saying that civil rights law as written does not include sexual orientation or gender identity. On the other side, one argument says this definition of “sex” is appropriate because a woman who gets fired for being married to a woman wouldn’t get fired if she were a man married to a woman—therefore it is about her sex.
Currently, 28 states do not protect LGBT people against discrimination—including Kentucky. Thanks to folks like the Fairness Campaign, some in Kentucky are protected, as 10 cities have adopted fairness ordinances. And, as Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office told the Courier Journal, the state of Kentucky prohibits discrimination on sexual orientation right now for state employment. (Thanks, Governor Steve Beshear! Let’s hope Bevin doesn’t roll back that protection.)
But that still leaves LGBT folks in 110 Kentucky counties—and the parts of counties not covered by those cities—vulnerable to this type of discrimination. My home of Daviess County is one of those places that lack this protection. Plus, most of those places are rural where LGBT people face some of the worst oppression already.
This is an important case. If the USSC rules that employers cannot discriminate that would be a huge win—expanding that definition and protection to the folks who need it. However, if we lose it leaves those people hanging while also telling folks everywhere that discrimination is legal. That could empower those who might have otherwise thought twice before firing. It’s time Governor Bevin defend all Kentuckians. Not only is defending LGBT folks the moral thing to do, supporting LGBT people would be better for Kentucky’s economy.