Listen to “‘Sex’ and the Civil Rights Act: Supremes to Decide Definition” on Spreaker.
The Supreme Court is getting back to business this week and right away the justices are diving into a legal question that could have significant cultural impact.
On Tuesday, the justices heard arguments over whether the 1964 Civil Right Act forbidding employer discrimination on the basis of sex simply affords legal protection to women or whether it also ought to extend to sexual orientation and gender identity.
The case before the court centers on three individuals, one of whom is deceased: two men who were allegedly fired for being gay and a biological male who now identifies as a female who was let go from a Michigan funeral home.
Solicitor General Noel Francisco said the Civil Right Act was clearly drafted 55 years ago with the term “sex” clearly intended to mean the difference between male and female, not gay vs. straight.
While advocates for a broader definition of “sex” say an adverse ruling will let them back decades, Family Research Council Senior Fellow Peter Sprigg says it would actually just preserve the status quo. He says the real cultural shift would occur if the court changes what he believes the authors of the Civil Rights Act intended 55 years ago.
“It would be very serious. There would be a significant threat to the freedom of employers to decide what they believe are the appropriate qualifications for their employees. And there would be a particular threat to religious liberty for Christian employers who may be concerned about not wanting to hire people whose lifestyle is not consistent with the teachings of their faith,” said Sprigg.
Listen to the full podcast as Sprigg explains why there’s a big difference in sexual orientation vs. gender identity in the Civil Rights Act and why conservative groups like the Family Research Council find themselves in common cause with feminists and lesbian groups worried about equating biological men with women.