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Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

Est. 2014

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Rochester endorses resolution calling for LGBTQ employment protections

Rochester endorses resolution calling for LGBTQ employment protections

The City of Rochester is backing a resolution in support of greater workplace protections for the LGBTQ community.

On Monday, the city council voted unanimously to sign on to an amicus brief related to cases being brought before the U.S. Supreme Court. By doing so, the city is now on the record supporting the view that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act applies to members of the LGBTQ community.

Rochester Mayor Kim Norton brought forward the non-binding resolution after being contacted by Freedom for All Americans, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for enhanced protections for individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer.

“It’s the right thing to do — to support all protected classes,” Norton said following Monday’s meeting.

Norton noted she could have signed on to the brief herself, but said it was important that the resolution had the full backing of the city council.

The Supreme Court announced in April that it would take up three cases related to whether the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — which prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion — applies to gay and transgender people.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has said the act does offer the protections. However, the Trump administration has taken a contrary stance — arguing that the law does not extend to sexual orientation.

So far, federal appeals courts have been split as to whether discrimination against gays and lesbians should be interpreted as a form of sex discrimination under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Ultimately, the final say will lie with the Supreme Court, the makeup of which has shifted in a more conservative direction since the landmark case in 2015 that legalized same-sex marriage.

The court will hear the cases in its next term, which begins in October.

Sean Baker is a Rochester journalist and the founder of Med City Beat.

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