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Dear friends and neighbors,
Today brings us historic news from the Supreme Court. In a landmark ruling, our nation’s highest court affirmed the rights of LGBTQ+ workers by finding that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is a form of sex discrimination prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. That means that a person cannot be fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is a big deal.
Today is a victory for LGBTQ+ workers all over our country, especially in Nebraska where we have fought for years at the state level to enshrine these protections into law. We owe our gratitude to Aimee Stephens, Donald Zarda and Gerald Bostock, the LGBTQ+ workers who brought these cases all the way to the top. Sadly, only one of the three plaintiffs is still with us today — Don passed away in 2014 and, just this May, we lost Aimee, too. They deserved to be a part of this moment and we owe them so much thanks.
This much-needed win also comes in the midst of two epidemics: COVID-19, and racial violence, answered by the Black Lives Matter movement. A guarantee of employment protections like these couldn’t come at a better time, but it is not enough. I find myself happy about this Supreme Court decision, but not resting and not even really relieved. This is one long-overdue step in the fight for equality and fight against violence toward the LGBTQ+ community, which disproportionately affects Black people and people of color. We have to recognize and dismantle all policies that embolden those who stand on the side of inequality, and that work is not done.
I am the first openly LGBTQ+ person elected to the Nebraska Legislature in its 165-year history. To me, that is a dubious honor, because that much time should not have passed before we had a single person offering representation to our community at the state level. In 2020, we must elect more people from our LGBTQ+ community and continue to expand the diversity of representation across all intersections of identity and experience at the state and local level. The government doesn’t work for all the people until it reflects all the people.
In Nebraska, we must still pass LB627, Senator Patty Pansing Brooks’s priority bill to enshrine LGBTQ+ workplace protections at the state level and mirror federal law. This will be my expectation of my colleagues in the Nebraska Legislature.
Every person should have the freedom to work hard, earn a decent living, and provide for their families. Those aren’t just Nebraska values – they are American values.
As always, please let me know if I can be of any more assistance. Email is the best way to get in touch with me, at firstname.lastname@example.org.