|RICHMOND (June 15, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring issued the below statement following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold LGBT protections under Title VII. This morning the Supreme Court issued an opinion saying that an employer who fires an employee simply for being gay or transgender is in violation of Title VII. Last summer, Attorney General Herring filed an amicus brief in this case arguing that sexual orientation and gender identity are protected under Title VII and in 2016 he issued an official advisory opinion that predicted the Supreme Court would rule this way “because gender-identity and sexual-orientation discrimination necessarily involves treating individuals less favorably on account of sex-based considerations.”
“Today, equality wins again. Repeatedly when people have tried to challenge the rights and protections of the LGBT community they have failed,” said Attorney General Herring. “This landmark lawsuit is a huge win for the LGBT community and for equality across this country. No one should ever have to fear being discriminated against in their workplace or losing their job because of who they love or how they identify. Every single Virginian and every single American deserves equal protection under the law.”
“This decision is a massive step forward for antidiscrimination in this country, and I will not let up in doing all that I can to make sure the LGBT community is protected both at the state and at the federal level.”
Protecting the LGBT community has been a top priority for Attorney General Herring. He has filed briefs in numerous lawsuits to keep anti-discrimination protections in place for LGBT individuals in things like housing, access to homeless shelters, and healthcare.
In 2016, Attorney General Herring issued an advisory opinion predicting this decision because of the unmistakable trajectory of federal courts recognizing LGBT discrimination as a violation of Title VII, and because “because gender-identity and sexual-orientation discrimination necessarily involves treating individuals less favorably on account of sex-based considerations.” He further explained that, if the Supreme Court ruled this way, LGBT discrimination would also violate the Virginia Human Rights Act which explicitly makes any violation of federal anti-discrimination law a concurrent violation of state law.
In 2014, Attorney General Herring also became the first attorney general in the country to challenge his own state’s ban on same-sex marriage, helping to take the issue all the way to the Supreme Court and winning – ensuring marriage equality in Virginia and the country.
Additionally, during this year’s legislative session, Attorney General Herring was successful in updating Virginia’s definition of a hate crime to include protections for gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability, something that he had been pushing for several years.