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Is LGBT workplace discrimination protection the next victory?

By now, our readers are surely aware of the decision that the U.S. Supreme Court handed down late in June, ruling that all denials of same-sex marriage by the states are unconstitutional. This is a big victory for advocates for LGBT rights in this country, but the fight for civil rights is not yet over. As the Los Angeles Times reports, the next step could be achieving the right for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people not to be subjected to discrimination in the workplace.

The District of Columbia and 22 states, including California, have laws prohibiting employers from discriminating on the basis of workers’ and job applicants’ sexual orientation. A handful of other states protect public workers from this form of discrimination, but not private sector employees. Workers in the rest of the states may be subject to firing, demotion, or harassment due to their sexual orientation, with little or no ability to fight back.

This is similar to the marriage right issue, in which there was a patchwork of rights, depending on which state you lived in. Ironically, as one attorney told the Times, in many places a person can now get married to their same-sex partner over a weekend, then get fired from their job on Monday.

Whether federal anti-LGBT discrimination will come through the courts or from Congress remains to be seen. The legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, an activist group, believes that lawmakers will pass such a law within the next six years.

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