On Tuesday, October 8, the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) alongside the greater LGBT community, activists, and allies joined forces to rally on the steps of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in defense of LGBT workplace protections.
During the rally, the workplace discrimination cases of Aimee Stephens, Donald Zarda, and Gerald Bostock were heard by the highest court in America. In 2020, SCOTUS will decide whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act applies to and protects Stephens, Zarda, and Bostock, and the greater LGBT community.
“We are here today to call on the Supreme Court to not only choose the history that is right for America, but to do it because it’s right for our country, our businesses, and our long-term sustainability,” said NGLCC Co-Founder & President Justin Nelson during Tuesday’s rally.
Justin Nelson, Co-Founder and President of NGLCC
This case is what many LGBT people are calling the defining case of the future of their lives. Several prominent leaders in the LGBT equality movement were present, including Laverne Cox from the Netflix hit TV show Orange is the New Black, as well as American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Human Rights Campaign (HRC) change-makers.
SCOTUS is in the process of ruling on whether workplaces can discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, and October 8 marked the first occasion that the court heard a case about transgender discrimination.
Aimee Stephens worked as the director of a funeral home for six years, and when she came out as a transgender woman to her co-workers in 2012, she was fired just weeks later. Her sudden dismissal left both Stephens and her partner without health insurance or a steady paycheck.
Donald Zarda and Gerald Bostock were both fired because of their sexual orientations. When they came out as gay at work, they were fired immediately.
“We can get married in 50 states, but in more than half, we can be fired,” said Nelson.
It is no doubt that LGBT Americans power the economy. The LGBT community contributes over 1.7 trillion dollars annually to the U.S. economy, drives economic growth, and creates countless jobs. There are an estimated 1.4 million LGBT business owners in the U.S. alone.
“It is crucial that LGBT Americans have protections under Title VII,” NGLCC Chief of Staff Sabrina Gill Kent noted. “The LGBT community contributes significantly to the economy. We pay taxes, we are active members of the global economy, but we are still denied equal rights in the workplace, as well as credit and assistance to grow our businesses. This blatant discrimation needs to end once and for all, and I hope SCOTUS stands on the right side of history in ensuring all Americans are treated equally under the law.”
NGLCC is inspired by everyone who came and rallied on the Supreme Court steps with us, united in the belief that all red-blooded, tax-paying Americans deserve equality.
“Know that we stand with you, that we are excited about this fight, and that the Justices must decide on the right side of history,” Nelson said.
Are you an LGBT business owner? Visit our website to learn more about Certified LGBT Business Enterprise® (Certified LGBTBE®) companies and how to get involved with NGLCC.