How Milwaukee Leaders Are Reacting to the Landmark LGBTQ+ Supreme Court Decision

The decision, which prevents workplace discrimination against gay and transgender people, is a win for Milwaukee, local advocates say.

On Monday morning, a victory was won for LGBTQ+ rights. In a landmark 6–3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that gay and transgender individuals cannot be discriminated against in the workplace. 

“An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids,” wrote Justice Neil Gorsuch in the opinion, which was joined by Justices Roberts, Ginsberg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan. 

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These new protections come in the wake of the Trump administration’s removal of health care and health insurance protections for LGBTQ+ people on Friday. Though that was a step backward for LGBTQ+ rights, this decision is a huge leap forward both for the nation and for Wisconsin as a state.

“What it means for Wisconsin is that now our transgender family members are all covered in employment situations as well in a way that they haven’t been in Wisconsin before, so that’s huge and a huge victory,” says Gerald Coon, president and CEO of Diverse & Resilient, a Milwaukee-based health advocacy organization for the LGBTQ+ community. “There’s still work to be done in areas of public accommodations. But from a work perspective, this is huge for Milwaukee and for all of Wisconsin. For all of the transgender citizens who live here and work, we could not be more thrilled.”

Wes Shaver, president of Milwaukee Pride Inc., agrees that the ruling is instrumental in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, especially given the current antiracism protests.

“It means to me that the work of all the people that participate in the Pride movement, that participate in Black Lives Matter, that stand up for equality, civil rights, equal rights — it shows us the movement is working. It shows me that the efforts on local homefronts, the amplification of people fighting and standing up for equality, is in fact changing people’s minds. And I always say that when you change people’s minds, you change people’s hearts. And that’s how we effect change,” he says.

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Jude is an editorial intern at Milwaukee Magazine. He is a freshman at Northwestern University studying journalism, gender and sexuality studies and theatre.