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Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

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Appeals court: Homosexuality is a protected class like race and sex

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

NEW YORK, February 26, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A federal appeals court ruled Monday that a law prohibiting discrimination based on one’s sex also applies to “sexual orientation.”

The case, Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., was over whether homosexuality is a protected class under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled it is, going against the Trump administration’s plain reading of the law.

“We see no principled basis for recognizing a violation of Title VII for associational discrimination based on race but not on sex,” Chief Justice Robert A. Katzmann wrote.

An example of “associational discrimination” based on race would be if an employer fired a white male for marrying a black woman.  

The court said the same reasoning would prohibit adverse employment decisions based on sexual orientation.

The case stems from an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) finding that the 1964 anti-discrimination law covers homosexuality.

“Sexual orientation discrimination is a subset of sex discrimination,” the court concluded, “because sexual orientation is defined by one’s sex in relation to the sex of those to whom one is attracted.”

“This court ruling could help change the scope of gay rights in America,” Vox reported. “If the courts agree that the Civil Rights Act already bans anti-gay discrimination, they could change the national landscape once and for all.”

The ruling applies to discrimination in the workplace, housing, and schools, but does not mention public accommodations such as public bathrooms.

The ruling admits that the Supreme Court “and other circuits” assume that the 1964 law “‘means biologically male or female’ and uses the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ interchangeably.”  

However, “legal doctrine evolves,” Katzmann wrote.

“Sexual orientation discrimination is ‘assuredly not the principal evil that Congress was concerned with when it enacted Title VII,’” the ruling admitted, but “‘statutory prohibitions often go beyond the principal evil to cover reasonably comparable evils.’”

Despite acknowledging as a “fact” Congress didn’t consider sexual orientation discrimination in 1964, the court nevertheless concluded, “Sexual orientation is a function of sex and, by extension, sexual orientation discrimination is a subset of sex discrimination.”

In a curiously circular statement, the court quoted the EEOC’s finding that “Sexual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination because it necessarily entails treating an employee less favorably because of the employee’s sex.” The court did not elaborate as to whether it thereby assumes the homosexual condition creates a third gender.

Katzmann claimed that “discrimination” against homosexuality is “based on gender stereotypes,” most commonly “heterosexually defined gender norms.”

Going further afield, the court related sex discrimination with forcing religious employers to have workers that violate the employers’ beliefs.  

“It is no defense that an employer requires both men and women to refrain from same‐sex attraction or relationships,” Katzmann added.

Seven judges wrote opinions separate from Katzmann’s. Three judges dissented.  

Homosexual activist group GLAAD called the Second Circuit ruling “a decisive victory” and “a vital step forward” against the Trump administration’s “anti-LGBTQ agenda.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Department of Justice filed a “friend of the court” brief in the case, reasoning that the 1964 law did not envision today’s homosexual prominence.  

Sessions wrote to the country’s federal prosecutors that on “all pending and future matters,” the DOJ will go by what Congress originally intended. It will not add unforeseen deviances when enforcing laws regarding equal treatment on the basis of “sex.”

The issue has divided the nation’s courts.  

The Eleventh Circuit Court ruled that the 1964 law did not encompass homosexuals, but the Seventh Circuit Court ruled it did.

Monday’s Second Circuit ruling applies only to New York, Connecticut, and Vermont.  The Supreme Court could reverse or uphold it for the entire nation.

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