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Federal Appeals Court Rules Civil Rights Act Covers Sexual Orientation

WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court handed down a victory for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people today, affirming that workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal under federal law.

The full Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued the ruling on the scope of the Civil Rights Act in Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc. The Department of Justice had weighed in on the side of the employer, arguing sexual orientation is not protected under Title VII’s definition of sex. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a friend-of-the-court brief opposing along with several other organizations.

Ria Tabacco Mar, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT & HIV Project, had the following response:

“Today’s decision is a victory for lesbian, gay, and bisexual workers across the country. There have now been two federal appeals courts to recognize what we’ve always known — that discrimination based on sexual orientation is in fact discrimination, and that there is no room for it in the workplace. This decision is also a repudiation of the Trump administration’s Justice Department, which has insisted that LGBT discrimination is acceptable under federal law.”

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