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WASHINGTON June 15, 2020 – The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled in a trio of cases that it is against the law to fire people for being LGBTQ. The ACLU was counsel in the cases of Aimee Stephens and Don Zarda and argued Ms. Stephens’ case.
James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project had the following response:
“This is a huge victory for LGBTQ equality. Over 50 years ago, Black and Brown trans women, drag queens, and butch lesbians fought back against police brutality and discrimination that too many LGBTQ people still face. The Supreme Court’s clarification that it’s unlawful to fire people because they’re LGBTQ is the result of decades of advocates fighting for our rights. The court has caught up to the majority of our country, which already knows that discriminating against LGBTQ people is both unfair and against the law. We celebrate the LGBTQ people, including our clients Aimee Stephens and Don Zarda, as well as Donna Stephens, Aimee’s wife, and Bill Moore and Melissa Zarda, Don’s former partner and sister, who moved these cases forward after they died.
“Our work is not done. There are still alarming gaps in federal civil rights laws that leave people — particularly Black and Brown LGBTQ people — open to discrimination in businesses open to the public and taxpayer-funded programs. Congress must affirm today’s decision and update our laws to ensure comprehensive and explicit protections for LGBTQ people and all people who face discrimination.”
Donna Stephens, Aimee Stephens’ wife of 20 years, issued this statement:
“My wife Aimee was my soulmate. We were married for 20 years. For the last seven years of Aimee’s life, she rose as a leader who fought against discrimination against transgender people, starting when she was fired for coming out as a woman, despite her recent promotion at the time. I am grateful for this victory to honor the legacy of Aimee, and to ensure people are treated fairly regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Aimee Stephens, before her death, shared the following when discussing a possible ruling in her favor:
“Firing me because I’m transgender was discrimination, plain and simple, and I am glad the Court recognized that what happened to me is wrong and illegal. I am thankful that the Court said my transgender siblings and I have a place in our laws — it made me feel safer and more included in society.”
Melissa Zarda had the following response:
“My brother Don was my rock, my everything. I stood in the Supreme Court to honor his memory and to continue the fight for fairness. What happened to Don was wrong. People in our country already knew this, and now there is no question.”