Gay and lesbian rights advocates set their sights on employment laws

In a landmark decision on Friday, June 26; the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in the U.S. The high court's ruling compels states where bans on gay marriage existed to lift those bans effective immediately and to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian residents who wish to wed.

For decades, gay and lesbian rights advocates have fought for the right to legally marry. While there was much celebration in the wake of Friday's ruling, proponents of gay and lesbian rights must now regroup and turn their focus and energy towards changing employment discrimination laws that frequently allow employers to openly and legally discriminate against employees based on their sexual orientation.

While gay and lesbian federal employees and those who work for employers with federal contracts are protected under employment anti-discrimination laws, these laws don't extend to the majority of private-sector employers. Consequently, if fired, an employee who is open about his or her sexuality or who an employer believes to be gay, may have no rights to legal recourse.

Legislation aimed to extend employment anti-discrimination protections to all gay and lesbian employees is expected to be introduced soon in both the House and Senate. The immediate success of such bills, however, is unlikely with the current republican-controlled Congress.

No one should be forced to endure mistreatment, harassment or discrimination in the workplace. The Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage lays the groundwork for future legislation to ensure that the rights of all Americans and employees are respected and protected.

Employees who have suffered discrimination or harassment at work due to their gender or sexual orientation may choose to speak with an attorney. An attorney who specializes in employment law matters will provide strong legal advocacy and seek justice on behalf of a wronged employee.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Next frontier for gays is employment and housing discrimination," Timothy M. Phelps, June 26, 2015

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