Supporters of LGBTQ+ rights hold placards in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington on Oct. 8, 2019. The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a landmark civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in employment. It’s a resounding victory for LGBTQ+ rights from a conservative court. (AP Photo | Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Supporters of LGBTQ+ rights hold placards in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington on Oct. 8, 2019. The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a landmark civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in employment. It’s a resounding victory for LGBTQ+ rights from a conservative court. (AP Photo | Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Alaskans celebrate Supreme Court decision protecting LGBTQ+ rights

The 6-3 decision is a resounding victory for the LGBTQ+ community.

The Supreme Court reaffirmed protection of LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination in the workplace in a 6-3 decision Monday.

“It means that under federal law, an employer who fires an employee just for being gay or transgender violates the Civil Rights Act. It’s a huge, huge victory and I was really thrilled to see it,” said Libby Bakalar, a board member with the Southeast Alaska LGBTQ+ Alliance in a phone interview, speaking in a personal capacity. “It’s a pretty simple, straightforward victory.”

The protection created by the Supreme Court decision stands in stark contrast to many states, which do not have statutes barring discrimination against LGBTQ+ employees in place.

“Alaska is one of the states with no protections for sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Jennifer Fletcher, transgender woman and treasurer of SEAGLA, in a phone interview. “This will extend those protections to Alaskans. That is outstanding.”

How this will affect ongoing related court cases, as well as how this will affect institutions like the military, has yet to be seen.

While some cities in Alaska, including Juneau, have some protections in place, Bakalar said, the ruling will extend that workplace protection to all Alaskans. An executive order previously protected state employees, Fletcher said, but this covers all employees, everywhere in the U.S.

State reports 29 new COVID-19 cases

“We have sort of a hodgepodge patchwork,” Bakalar said. “There’s no general blanket state law that’s analogous to the Civil Rights Act. Until today, that left folks vulnerable to discrimination.”

The decision is also a good sign for people who worried that the justices appointed by President Donald Trump would ignore their responsibilities to their Supreme Court and decide based on political affiliation instead, Bakalar said.

“It’s a huge victory for the country and the court,” Bakalar said. “I think today’s decision is a relief for people who watch (the Supreme Court). That tells us the court is operating the way it should be.”

Others echoed that sentiment, including Alaska legislators. Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, who has put forward a bill to protect Alaskans from all forms of discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation, was one of them.

Josephson said the Supreme Court’s decision and his bill do not perfectly overlap —the bill would protect against discrimination in housing and lending as well as employment — but he still welcomed the protections created by the court’s decision.

“It is a great day for LGBT rights,” Josephson said in an email. “Further, Justices Roberts and Gorsuch prove to American conservatives that they are men who are willing to look at each case uniquely and thoughtfully.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, also released a statement praising the Supreme Court’s decision. Sen. Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young’s office did not immediately respond to inquiries.

“People should not live in fear of being discriminated against or losing their job because of their LGBTQ status,” Murkowski said in a statement. “I am pleased to see today’s Supreme Court holding that existing federal civil rights law protects individuals from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Murkowski said. “This is long overdue, and is significant progress as we seek to protect and uphold the rights and equality of all Americans.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757.621.1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of Sept. 25

Here’s what to expect this week.

Police vehicles gather Wednesday evening near Kaxdigoowu Héen Dei, also known as ]]Brotherhood Bridge Trail, while investigating a homicide. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Police: Woman was walking dogs when she was killed

JPD said officers are working “around the clock” on the criminal investigation.

In this photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, a Coast Guard Cutter Kimball crew-member observes a foreign vessel in the Bering Sea, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter on routine patrol in the Bering Sea came across the guided missile cruiser from the People's Republic of China, officials said Monday, Sept. 26.  (U.S. Coast Guard District 17 via AP)
Patrol spots Chinese, Russian naval ships off Alaska island

This wasn’t the first time Chinese naval ships have sailed near Alaska waters.

An Alaska judge has ruled that a state lawmaker affiliated with the Oath Keepers, Rep. David Eastman, shown in this February 2022 photo, may stay on the general election ballot in November even though he's likely ineligible to hold public office  (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Judge keeps Oath Keepers lawmaker on November ballot

Judge ordered delaying certifying the result of the race until a trial scheduled for December.

Water rushes down Front Street, just a half block from the Bering Sea, in Nome, Alaska, on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022 as the remnants of Typhoon Merbok moved into the region. It was a massive storm system — big enough to cover the mainland U.S. from the Pacific Ocean to Nebraska and from Canada to Texas. It influenced weather systems as far away as California, where a rare late-summer storm dropped rain on the northern part of the state, offering a measure of relief to wildfire crews but also complicating fire suppression efforts because of mud and loosened earth. (AP Photo / Peggy Fagerstrom)
Repair work begins in some Alaska towns slammed by storm

ANCHORAGE — There’s been significant damage to some roads and homes in… Continue reading

j
Sniffen indicted on sexual abuse counts

Sniffen will be arraigned Monday.

In this undated file photo the Trans-Alaska pipeline and pump station north of Fairbanks, Alaska is shown. (AP Photo / Al Grillo)
Oil price drop endangers plan to fund Alaska schools a year early

If oil prices fall, amount is automatically reduced to an amount the state can afford. At

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Juneau Police Department announces technology and reporting updates

Emergeny services and direct reporting will not be interrupted

The hoverfly can perceive electrical fields around the edges of the petals, the big white stigma, and the stamens. (Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)
On the Trails: Electric flowers and platform plants

You cannot see it, it’s electric.

Most Read