Maplewood, DeLuca, others file brief in support of LGBTQ rights

MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Mayor Victor De Luca and the Township of Maplewood signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief in three key LGBTQ cases that will be heard at the U.S. Supreme Court next term. The brief includes nearly 100 mayors and municipalities around the country encouraging the Supreme Court to rule in support of LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections in the workplace. Franklin Township in Somerset County is the only other New Jersey municipality to have signed on.

The cases concern three plaintiffs: Gerald Lynn Bostock, who was fired from his job as a court child welfare services coordinator in Georgia because he is gay; Aimee Stephens, who was let go from her job at a funeral home in Michigan after she shared with her employer that she is a transgender woman; and Don Zarda, who was fired from his job in New York as a skydiving instructor for being gay. 

“No one should experience discrimination because of who they are or who they love,” DeLuca said. “Our LGBTQ neighbors and community members make important contributions to our community, and they just want the same thing as every other resident: to raise a family, to make a decent living and to feel accepted in the community they call home. We joined this lawsuit because of the injustice these three individuals and thousands of others in the LGBTQ community face in the workplace.”

“As local elected officials it is our responsibility to make sure all our residents are treated with dignity, fairness and respect,” Maplewood Committeeman Dean Dafis said. “No form of discrimination has any place in any community in the United States. Winning this case is critical for the LGBTQ community. I will be in Washington on Oct. 8 in support of the lawsuit.”

The brief states in part: “Local anti-discrimination laws promote the prosperity and vitality of American communities. Among other things, these laws enhance innovation and economic opportunities. For example, researchers have found that state-level non-discrimination acts barring sexual orientation and transgender status discrimination result in higher rates of innovation, as measured by patents and patent citations. Adopting specific protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or transgender status has facilitated LGBT individuals’ participation in, and contribution to, their communities, enriching both the individual and the whole. And it has achieved that end with no real difficulties of implementation or administration, all while avoiding burdening taxpayer resources to remediate the harms of workplace discrimination against LGBT residents.”

At the core of these cases is the question of whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, prohibits LGBTQ discrimination. A number of lower courts and federal agencies have already affirmed that it does. In addition, 30 states and more than 250 cities around the country have comprehensive laws in place ensuring nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people, including in employment.