South Dakota is joining 14 other states in a case the United States Supreme Court will hear regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The brief the state joined says discrimination based on sex does not include those two. Civil rights groups disagree.
Three companion cases will get heard by the nation’s high court on three individuals who say they’ve been fired for being LGBTQ.
No one from Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s office was available for comment. In an email, Chief of Staff Tim Bormann says the office joins other states on amicus filings on a regular basis. Bormann goes on to say the crux of the case is “sex” defined by Congress in 1964, not on sexual orientation.
Libby Skarin is the policy director for the South Dakota ACLU says it’s disappointing the state joined the brief when it didn’t have to.
“Courts across this country have repeatedly issued rulings saying that discriminating against someone because they are LGBT is a form of sex discrimination because it relies on sex stereotyping,” Skarin says. “There’s a very long line of cases that have found that. So, to argue that we should go back to the 1960’s definition is really problematic.”
Both the 2nd and 7th Circuit court of appeals say the term “sex” extends to orientation.
Two of the employees in the case are ACLU clients and argue that one was fired for being transgender while another was fired for being gay. The case is the first transgender civil rights case to get heard by the US Supreme Court. Arguments are set for October 8th.