Wyoming Equality Executive Director, Sara Burlingame says, “All Wyomingites have cause to celebrate today -the courts have affirmed that the rule of law applies to everyone equally. Last week the Wyoming Supreme Court affirmed that a transgender Wyomingite had the same right to access the courts as any other citizen. Today the Supreme Court of the United States acknowledged that LGBTQ Americans are legally protected from employment discrimination, stating, “Only the written word is the law, and all persons are entitled to its benefit.” Certain extremists may have tried to limit LGBTQ Wyomingites access to basic civil rights, arguing that we were lesser citizens but today, the SCOTUS decision offers a rebuke to those extremists and reminds us all that the rule of law is for every American.”
As we celebrate this major victory, we recognize that it comes in the midst of a global pandemic and at a moment when our state and nation are grappling with both the legal and cultural systems of racism. So yes, today we celebrate and cheer, and tomorrow we get back to work. While LGBTQ people across the country now have legal protections from discrimination at work, we still have a long way to go.
THE WORK AHEAD:
Last Friday the Trump Administration moved to strip protections for transgender Americans from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This is an immoral and unconscionable act as COVID-19 continues to spike across the country. We must work to ensure that every member of our community can access medical care without fear of discrimination.
Even after today’s decision, it will still be legal under federal law:
- For stores, restaurants and hotels to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
- For federally funded programs, including hospitals, colleges, and adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
- To discriminate against transgender people in restrooms.
- To discriminate against women in public accommodations and federally funded programs.
- To discriminate against just about anyone in a wide range of public accommodations ranging from retail stores to transportation services.
The Wyoming Legislature has resisted passing state protections, claiming we needed federal guidance. Now we have it and there can be no more excuses. We still need Congress to fully protect LGBTQ people from discrimination and pass the Equality Act to ensure federal non-discrimination protections.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
Wyoming Equality remains in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. In light of this SCOTUS decision we are renewing our commitment to black LGBTQ Wyomingites and we won’t rest until our laws and our culture embrace your inherent worth and dignity. We are all going to cross the finish line of full equality together – the old days of white LGBTQ advocates saying, “me first, you last,” are over. Dr King forcefully reminds us that, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Our state and our nation, at every level, needs to address the racism that perpetuates discrimination and violence against Black people—and all people of color, including those who are LGBTQ—even when such discrimination and violence are formally prohibited by law. Even with today’s decision, Black LGBTQ people will still face disproportionate discrimination across their lives. Until our laws remedy systemic racism and inequality, and our culture catches up to those laws, our movement’s pursuit of LGBTQ equality is far from done.
So yes, today we celebrate and recognize that this decision is a critical step forward. It’s a victory that is sorely needed after a brutal four months. Today is a powerful reminder of what we as a community can accomplish, and how much work is left to do. The good people of Wyoming, LGBTQ folks and our neighbors know how to put our shoulder to the wheel and work for equality. Join us, because we need you.