PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - The Supreme Court ruling on Monday protecting LGBTQ workers from discrimination in the workplace has local advocacy groups like Basic Rights Oregon and the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon celebrating the decision.
"We know what was at stake in these cases and the message from the U.S. Supreme Court was clear," Basic Rights Oregon Executive Director, Nancy Haque, said. "LGBTQ people should be able to work free from harassment and discrimination. And while we celebrate this important moment for legal equality, our work is far from over."
Basic Rights Oregon and the ACLU of Oregon shared strong words in support of the SCOTUS decision in a press conference on Monday.
But they say there's more work to do in ending systemic racism and addressing the gaps in federal non-discrimination laws.
Basic Rights Oregon Major Gifts Officer Mikki Gillette shared her own personal experience.
"In the fall of 2011 when I was beginning my transition, I worked as a substitute teacher in Portland and Vancouver, Washington," Gillette said. "A group of parents in Vancouver attempted to get me fired from my position simply because I'm transgender."
Gillette says Washington, like Oregon, is a state with comprehensive non-discrimination laws for LGBTQ people. She says the district defended her gender expression.
Now, the ACLU of Oregon and Basic Rights Oregon are calling on Congress to pass the Equality Act. It would provide non-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ community in several areas, including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service.
The ACLU of Oregon noted despite legal protections that are in place, transgender people in Oregon face higher unemployment rates and disproportionately experience poverty.
"Thankfully, Oregon state law has long protected LGBTQ people from employment discrimination," ACLU of Oregon Interim Legal Director, Kelly Simon, said. "However, we have more work to do, especially on behalf of black and brown LGBTQ Oregonians."
Both groups spoke about ending discrimination on a larger level, not just specifically within the LGBTQ community. They acknowledged and said they can't ignore whats happening right now with the Black Lives Matter movement and they stand with them.
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