Members of Congress Urge Court to Recognize Protections for LGBT Americans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – 128 Members of Congress, led by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), have filed an amicus brief in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Christiansen v. Omnicom Group, Inc., arguing that workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is already prohibited under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 since these types of discrimination are inherently linked to sex discrimination. Discrimination on the basis of sex is banned under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

“Different interpretations of Title VII have led to uncertainty in the workplace and left LGBT Americans inconsistently protected from workplace harassment and discrimination, despite applicable federal law,” wrote the Senators and Representatives. “We firmly believe that Title VII’s sex discrimination provision already prohibits discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation and gender identity, and we urge the Court to overrule erroneous Second Circuit precedent to the contrary.”

Merkley, Baldwin and Cicilline are lead cosponsors of the Equality Act, legislation that would clarify and expand current civil rights laws to better protect people of color, women and LGBT Americans from discrimination. Among other provisions, the Equality Act would clarify existing law by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of explicitly protected classes in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Senators and Representatives wrote in the brief that “the Equality Act acknowledges that Title VII already protects against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. Amici explicitly sought not to overrule case law and administrative holdings that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity are sex discrimination. We therefore took a ‘belt and suspenders’ approach when drafting the Equality Act’s substantive provisions. [T]he Equality Act would amend Title VII to explicitly include ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ as protected characteristics alongside ‘sex.’ We believed this would help clarify the statute for the average American who would look at its text without the benefit of legal experience or a repository of case law.”

A copy of the full brief can be found here. A full list of the Senators and Representatives signing the brief can be found below.

U.S. Senators:

1)      Jeffrey A. Merkley

2)      Tammy Baldwin

3)      Cory A. Booker

4)      Patrick Leahy

5)      Edward J. Markey

6)      Al Franken

7)      Barbara A. Mikulski

8)      Patty Murray

9)      Mazie K. Hirono

10)  Ron Wyden

11)  Dianne Feinstein

12)  Sheldon Whitehouse

13)  Kirsten Gillibrand

14)  Sherrod Brown

15)  Brian Schatz

16)  Bernard Sanders

17)  Jack Reed

18)  Martin Heinrich

19)  Richard Blumenthal

20)  Mark R. Warner

21)  Richard J. Durbin

22)  Tim Kaine

23)  Gary C. Peters

U.S. Representatives:

1)      David N. Cicilline

2)      Nancy Pelosi

3)      Steny H. Hoyer

4)      Theodore E. Deutch

5)      Eleanor Holmes Norton

6)      Mike Quigley

7)      Jackie Speier

8)      Elizabeth H. Esty

9)      Brad Ashford

10)  Grace F. Napolitano

11)  Mark Pocan

12)  Michael M. Honda

13)  Robert A. Brady

14)  Barbara Lee

15)  Dina Titus

16)  Bonnie Watson Coleman

17)  Raúl M. Grijalva

18)  Frederica S. Wilson

19)  Tony Cárdenas

20)  Stephen F. Lynch

21)  Juan Vargas

22)  Ruben Gallego

23)  Tim Ryan

24)  Sean Patrick Maloney

25)  Donald Norcross

26)  Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Jr.

27)  Steve Israel

28)  Suzanne Bonamici

29)  Bill Foster

30)  Jerrold Nadler

31)  Alan Lowenthal

32)  Donald S. Beyer Jr.

33)  Patrick E. Murphy

34)  Julia Brownley

35)  Janice Hahn

36)  Matt Cartwright

37)  James P. McGovern

38)  Hakeem Jeffries

39)  Norma J. Torres

40)  Kathy Castor

41)  Mike Thompson

42)  José E. Serrano

43)  Steve Cohen

44)  Joe Crowley

45)  Danny K. Davis

46)  John Conyers Jr.

47)  Scott H. Peters

48)  Chris Van Hollen

49)  Ed Perlmutter

50)  Derek Kilmer

51)  Diana DeGette

52)  Zoe Lofgren

53)  Jan Schakowsky

54)  Lois Capps

55)  Eric Swalwell

56)  Suzan DelBene

57)  Dan Kildee

58)  Grace Meng

59)  Alan Grayson

60)  Alcee L. Hastings

61)  Sam Farr

62)  Betty McCollum

63)  Mark Takano

64)  Rubén Hinojosa

65)  Niki Tsongas

66)  Sander M. Levin

67)  André Carson

68)  Debbie Wasserman Schultz

69)  Nydia M. Velázquez

70)  Ted W. Lieu

71)  Lois Frankel

72)  Linda T. Sánchez

73)  Joseph P. Kennedy

74)  Adam B. Schiff

75)  Jared Polis

76)  Seth Moulton

77)  Denny Heck

78)  Debbie Dingell

79)  Frank Pallone, Jr.

80)  Tammy Duckworth

81)  William R. Keating

82)  Lucille Roybal-Allard

83)  Peter Welch

84)  Loretta Sanchez

85)  Ben Ray Luján

86)  Kathleen M. Rice

87)  Luis V. Gutiérrez

88)  Carolyn B. Maloney

89)  Gregory W. Meeks

90)  Keith Ellison

91)  James R. Langevin

92)  Katherine Clark

93)  Brendan F. Boyle

94)  Susan Davis

95)  Elijah E. Cummings

96)  Marc Veasey

97)  Joaquin Castro

98)  John Garamendi

99)  Jim McDermott

100) Yvette D. Clarke

101) Brian Higgins

102)  Robert C. Scott

103)  Jim Himes

104) Chellie Pingree

105) Jared Huffman