(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of protecting the LGBTQ community against workplace discrimination.
Something that up until four days ago, could get a person fired in Missouri.
In a 6-3 vote, the high court ruled on three separate cases of workplace discrimination. One of the cases being Bostock vs Clayton County.
Gerard Bostock, a former counselor was fired from his job because from joining a gay softball league.
After the Supreme Court decision, Bostock said, “I’m overwhelmed with joy and my heart is filled with gratitude.”
The highest court of the land ruling discrimination based on someone's sexual orientation or gender identity violates federal law.
“It is no longer legal in any state, but particularly here in Missouri it is no longer legal to fire someone simply because they for example identify as gay,” said Brian Kirk, First Christian Church pastor and LGBTQ activist.
A landmark decision that caught many by surprise.
“My initial response to the Supreme Court’s decision was shock. I don’t think any of us were expecting it given the current makeup of the court, given the number of conservatice judges that have recently been appointed and the fact that a few of them crossed the isle, were not the ones we expected to do that. It was a total shock,” said Kirk.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating based on sex.
Monday, the court ruling sexual orientation and gender identity fall under that definition.
“Even with a conservative Supreme Court, they saw that this was a no-brainer,” said Kirk.
Five years after same sex marriage was legalized, no federal laws were protecting LGBTQ individuals in the areas of housing, employment or public accomodation.
Now, Federal law prohibits workplace discrimination against LGBTQ individuals, but there are still no protections regarding housing or public accomodation.
A lack of protection that Kirk said has personally impacted his life.
“When I moved here with my husband seven years ago and we were looking for rental property, we didn’t know what we were going to discover once somebody found out that it was two men looking for a place to live and we knew we had no recourse and we would still have no recourse,” said Kirk.
In St. Joseph, the city passed a non-discrimination ordinance, but local activists said the order has no teeth.
“Although we have an ordinance saying you should not discriminate against somebody because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, the fact is you can still do it in St. Joseph and nothing can be done about it. Now, we have a system to try and have mediation between people, let's say between as a business and a person who identifies as gay, but that’s as far as we can go right now,” said Kirk.
Activists encourage the public to reach out to local elected officials and ask for a more binding and punishable ordinance in wake of this momentous change for LGBTQ rights.