As Joe Biden might say, this is a big fuckin' deal.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last night that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation.
The 8-3 decision by the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, which overturned a three-judge panel's ruling, represents another step in the effort by gay rights groups to extend their 2015 nationwide victory on same-sex marriage to other areas, including employment.
"It is actually impossible to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without discriminating on the basis of sex," Chief Judge Diane Wood wrote for the majority. "It would require considerable calisthenics to remove the 'sex' from 'sexual orientation.'"
This is a big deal because, in many states, it's still legal to fire someone for being gay. At least it was before this ruling.
Notably, one of the most traditionally conservative judges in the country, Judge Richard Posner, concurred with the majority opinion.
Judge Richard Posner, one of eight 7th Circuit judges appointed by Republican presidents, issued a lengthy concurrence. "I don’t see why firing a lesbian because she is in the subset of women who are lesbian should be thought any less a form of sex discrimination than firing a woman because she’s a woman," he said.
Posner's opinion could be read another way, but I digress.
The dissenting judges opined that Congress should protect LGBT Americans from discrimination in the workplace. That's a great idea, but our Republican-controlled Congress has repeatedly rejected the idea.
It's an amusing circle jerk. Republicans in Congress say they don't need to pass protections for LGBT Americans because they're already covered (they weren't until last night's 7th Circuit ruling), but conservative judges say Congress should pass protections.
Maybe they're both right. And wrong.