Federal appeals court: Civil rights laws don't protect against sexual orientation discrimination
Sexual orientation discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people can only come from the Supreme Court or Congress, the federal appeals court in Chicago rules.
By Chris Geidner

This week, an appeals court ruled that sexual orientation is not a protected class under existing civil rights laws related to sex discrimination, particularly the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Only Congress or the Supreme Court can make a law banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. 

In ruling against Hively’s claim — that sexual orientation discrimination should be barred under Title VII as a type of sex discrimination — the court, primarily, pointed to a series of rulings from the appeals court beginning in 1984 and continuing through 2000 in which the court found that anti-LGBT discrimination was not covered by Title VII.

A clearly conflicted Judge Ilana Rovner, joined by Judge William Bauer, went on for more than 40 pages, however, detailing what Rovner described as “a paradoxical legal landscape in which a person can be married on Saturday and then fired on Monday for just that act.”

Addressing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s 2015 decision — backing up Hively’s position — that sexual orientation discrimination is a type of sex discrimination barred under Title VII, Rovner wrote, “The idea that the line between gender non‐conformity and sexual orientation claims is arbitrary and unhelpful has been smoldering for some time, but the EEOC’s decision … threw fuel on the flames.”

Another reason why This Election Really Matters: We need the Supreme Court and/or Congress to get moving to make it illegal for LGBT people to get “fired on Monday for getting married on Saturday.”
FINALLY: Same-sex couples can now adopt kids in all 50 states
A federal judge ruled Mississippi's ban on same-sex adoption is unconstitutional.

It’s official: A federal judge has overturned Mississippi’s ban on same-sex couples adopting children. That means it’s finally legal in all 50 states for a same-sex couple to adopt. 

Mississippi’s law banning same-sex adoption went into effect in 2000. Alabama, Florida, Nebraska and Michigan all had similar bans in place, but while theirs were all overturned, Mississippi’s remained. Until now. 

U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan issued a preliminary injunction against the ban, citing the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide last summer. The injunction blocks Mississippi from enforcing its 16-year-old anti-gay adoption law.

The Supreme Court ruling “foreclosed litigation over laws interfering with the right to marry and rights and responsibilities intertwined with marriage,” Jordan wrote. “It also seems highly unlikely that the same court that held a state cannot ban gay marriage because it would deny benefits — expressly including the right to adopt — would then conclude that married gay couples can be denied that very same benefit.”

This is an incredible moment, y’all. Families are families, no matter what we look like. Congratulations especially to you, Mississippi. <3
Canada swears in first transgender judge
Kael McKenzie was appointed to the bench in December 2015, and will become Canada’s first transgender judge.

On Friday, Kael McKenzie made history when he was sworn in at the Winnipeg law courts as a judge, becoming the first transgender judge in Canada. He was officially designated a judge in December. 

He is noted by the Manitoba Bar Association for his dedication to community involvement, including as a member of various LGBTQ organizations and law organizations.

The new judge told the crowd at the ceremony he received support from across Canada shortly after his appointment was announced.

He took time to specially thank his family that flew in from across Canada for the event.

McKenzie’s spouse and two sons sat in the front row for the ceremony. “This day would not be complete without (my sons),” said McKenzie.

What a milestone! Congratulations, sir.
North Carolina is getting sued for its terrible, horrible, no-good, very anti-LGBT law
"By singling out LGBT people for disfavored treatment and explicitly writing discrimination against transgender people into state law, H.B. 2 violates the most basic guarantees of equal treatm...
By Dominic Holden, Chris Geidner

It’s official: North Carolina is getting sued for the passage of HB2, the law that bans LGBT nondiscrimination protections and forces transgender people to use the wrong bathrooms.

Lambda Legal, the ACLU, the ACLU of North Carolina, and Equality North Carolina filed a lawsuit challenging HB2 on behalf of three individual plaintiffs and two advocacy groups (the ACLU of NC and Equality NC). 

The lawsuit argues that the new law denies LGBT people equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment because the new law was designed to single LGBT people out for discrimination and less protection.

“H.B. 2 was motivated by an intent to treat LGBT people differently, and worse, than other people, including by stripping them of the protections afforded by the City of Charlotte’s Ordinance and precluding any local government from taking action to protect LGBT people against discrimination,” the lawsuit alleges. By doing so, it continues, “H.B. 2 imposes a different and more burdensome political process on LGBT people than on non-LGBT people who have state protection against identity-based discrimination.”

Hell yes. Do the damn thing, y’all. Take. It. Down.
Trans students sue after being forced to wear green bracelets to out themselves to staff
These trans students filed federal lawsuits saying their civil rights were violated after being denied access to bathrooms of their gender.

There are two more lawsuits on the rise from transgender students who had to endure discrimination and unfair treatment from their schools.

In the first, a trans boy from Maryland says that he was told he could use a unisex bathroom or the girls’ bathroom, but not the boys’. He wants to join the school soccer team, but being separated from the other boys in the locker room could make it too hard for him to be a part of the team. 

In the second, a trans boy from Wisconsin was repeatedly misgendered by school staff, was told he needed medical documentation to use the boys’ room, and wasn’t allowed to run for prom king until the school received harsh backlash in the media. Perhaps worst of all, he and other transgender students were forced to wear green bracelets to identify themselves as trans to school staff. Eventually, the school enlisted security guards to make sure the student didn’t use the boys’ bathroom. 

This year, a spate of legislation was introduced in several states that would require trans students to use bathrooms according to the gender on their birth certificates. In some cases, lawmakers suggested students should be examined before using the bathroom or locker room. Some school districts and institutions of higher education have suggested students use unisex bathrooms, but trans students have pointed out that these bathrooms can be inconvenient or stigmatizing, as the boys’ lawyers wrote in their lawsuits.

In response, the Obama administration made a clear statement in May affirming that trans students have the right to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender. And an April decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that a school’s decision to restrict a trans boy from using the boys bathroom was a violation of Title IX. […]

Wisconsin is one of the states suing the federal government over this directive that states allow trans students to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender.

Casual reminder that it is the year 2016, and we are forcing students to out themselves — and potentially invite stigma, harassment and mistreatment — with markers on their clothing. Just let that sink in. 

No matter how isolated or scared you may feel today, the Department of Justice and the entire Obama Administration wants you to know that we see you; we stand with you; and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.
—  Attorney General Loretta Lynch speaking directly to transgender people while responding to North Carolina’s HB2 lawsuit. Holy cow. Full remarks.
Canada’s first transgender judge named
Former Crown attorney with indigenous ancestry appointed to provincial court in Manitoba

Canada’s first transgender judge has been appointed to provincial court in Manitoba.

Kael McKenzie, a Crown attorney from Winnipeg, was officially designated a judge on Dec. 17 and will begin his new job immediately.

With his appointment to provincial court, Mr. McKenzie becomes the third openly trans judge now practising in North America. The first, Victoria Kolakowski, of Alameda County, Calif., was appointed in 2010.

Many are calling Mr. McKenzie’s appointment “a Canadian milestone.”

Before his promotion, Mr. McKenzie was a Crown prosecutor for five years in family, commercial and civil law. He graduated from the University of Manitoba in 2006 and has been an active member of both the legal and LGBTQ communities since, co-chairing the Canadian Bar Association’s sexual-orientation and gender-identity conference from 2012 to 2014.

Mr. McKenzie is also serving as vice-president of the Manitoba Bar Association executive committee, the Manitoba chair of the Canadian Bar Association, and president of the Rainbow Resource Centre – which serves Manitoba’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and two-spirit communities. He also served on the Manitoba Women’s Advisory Council.

Mr. McKenzie was chosen from six candidates by an independent judicial committee that included three community representatives, members of the Law Society of Manitoba and the Manitoba branch of the Canadian Bar Association.

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