The United States Supreme Court ruled early yesterday morning that gay and transgender people are protected from workplace discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I heard the actual Breaking News on my tv as I sat in my favorite blue recliner with my dog Charly who really didn’t understand my sudden outburst into tears – not my usual response to the Breaking News recently.
My commitment to social justice issues for more than 40 years made this news especially sweet to an old dyke growing up in the 1950s in a tiny town in the piney woods of southeast Texas. The marriage equality decision by the Supremes in June of 2015 had been huge and one I never thought I would live to see. And now, another unimaginable move forward for the gay and trans communities with protection in the places we work. We can no longer be fired for who we are. The 6 – 3 decision was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee, whose phone must be ringing off wherever he keeps it today. Good on you.
Charly has become more accustomed to outbursts of anger with expletives directed at the perfect storm created by the Covid-19 chaotic governmental responses to a pandemic that continues to spike in my home state of South Carolina as it rages along in other states having similar numbers – always sure to warrant choice words from me – plus the murders of two black men by white policemen in recent weeks that have called to our public consciousness once again the systemic racism we have continued to address and ignore sporadically for more than 400 years of our country’s history. As Maya Wiley, an attorney and American Civil Rights activist, explained “We must move from tinkering with change to true transformation.” Amen to that.
My Texas sister Leora called me early today and shouted a loud “Congratulations!” over the phone. I was not quick enough to understand what she meant. When I asked her, she said for the Supreme Court decision yesterday for you and Pretty and all the other people who are trying to find equal justice where you work. I was overwhelmed and told her my celebration had been muted by the other horrific acts in recent days to which she responded: “You can breathe right now in this one place so celebrate the moment. We can all breathe again when we get the knees off our necks because of George Floyd’s death.” My African American sister gets it – the intersection of all of our hopes for a day when equal justice under the law is more than just empty words. I love Leora for many reasons, but today I love her for reminding me to be happy.
Stay safe, stay sane and please stay tuned.