Wow, so it turns out news can actually be good sometimes? Who knew.
So you’ve probably seen that the Supreme Court ruled today that the Civil Rights Act covers sexual orientation and gender identity, which means you can’t be fired for being queer or trans (or straight or cis).
On its own, this is a stunning victory! But Supreme Court rulings have a way of rippling outward with all sorts of ancillary effects. And there are some particularly tasty ones attached to this one.
One of the greatest impacts is on an issue that wasn’t even part of this lawsuit: Access to health care. The Trump administration has been pushing for years to let doctors and hospitals turn patients away on the basis of gender expression and sexual orientation; and last week Republicans advanced a rule change to overturn Obama-era protections that granted everyone access to medical treatment. (In fact they pushed this rule change through on the anniversary of the Pulse massacre, because Republicans are artists when it comes to cruelty.)
But their rule change relied on the federal legal understanding of the word “sex.” Specifically, the department of Health and Human Services claimed that Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act includes protections for “sex,” which HHS said doesn’t include gender identity. And whoops, now the Supreme Court has just ruled that “sex” DOES include gender identity!
So the short version of all this is: the Trump administration’s horrendously cruel attempt to prevent trans people from getting medical care has been pretty much knocked out of the ring. There will still likely be a few legal skirmishes over it, but it’s hard to see any way that those original Obamacare protections can be overturned.
Another nice little side-benefit of today’s ruling is that it has made conservatives very very very sad, because one of the only ways they could rationalize supporting Donald Trump is that he would give them a conservative Supreme Court. Whoops again! Trump’s buddy Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion that upheld trans rights today. Search twitter for “textualism” or “federalist society” to drink sweet delicious homophobic tears right now.
That’s not to say Gorsuch is our hero now, just, you know, this feels a bit like at the end of an episode of He-Man when Skeletor is sitting in a mud puddle, impotently splashing his fists and bellowing, “CURSE YOU!!!!” It’s very satisfying to see things fall apart for the bad guys.
Ahhh, savor the taste of winning today, queeros, and then go out and keep fighting for more.