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Utah AG: Anti-Discrimination Laws Don't Cover LGBTQ People

A federal appeals court in March ruled that Title VII protects a woman who was fired for being transgender. Several attorneys general and governors want the Supreme Court to know they think otherwise. (Matt Wade/Flickr)
A federal appeals court in March ruled that Title VII protects a woman who was fired for being transgender. Several attorneys general and governors want the Supreme Court to know they think otherwise. (Matt Wade/Flickr)
August 27, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah's attorney general this week joined attorneys general from 12 other states, and three governors in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court.

They argue that U.S. anti-discrimination laws do not include protections for people who identify as LGBTQ.

Only three years ago, the Utah Senate voted with a large majority to outlaw discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation in the state.

So, Chase Thomas, policy and advocacy counsel for Alliance for a Better Utah, says it is especially surprising that Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes would sign onto this amicus brief that argues against similar protections on a federal level.

"All we know is that we're extremely disappointed that he took this affirmative action to sign onto this amicus brief,” Thomas states. “It's not like he had to – there's a bunch of attorneys general across the country who didn't – but he chose to do that for some reason."

The amicus brief was filed in response to a transgender woman's discrimination suit against her former employer.

Title VII, established as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, protects Americans from discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin or sex.

Signatories of the amicus brief argue that "sex" does not cover gender identity or sexual orientation.

Thomas says the position the attorneys general and governors are taking is one that would make life harder for millions of people across the U.S. seeking fair treatment in the workplace.

"The attorney general is the attorney of the people, and consistently we see that Sean Reyes is choosing not to protect Utahns," Thomas stresses.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder previously found that Title VII does cover gender identity and sexual orientation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2017 issued a directive to reverse Holder's position.

Katherine Davis-Young, Public News Service - UT