PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - For the first time in U.S. history, the Supreme Court is hearing a case involving the civil rights of transgender Americans.

Protests took place before the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday as the court considers whether employers can fire working Americans based on their sexual orientation or sexual identity. The high court's ruling will affect roughly 11 to 12 million Americans who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.

The Trump administration is arguing that current federal civil rights laws do not protect LGBTQ working Americans.

People in the LGBTQ community say the Federal Civil Rights Act barring sex discrimination is already the law of the land, and it applies in these cases.

Kelly Simon with the ACLU of Oregon says the lives and rights of gay and transgender Americans are on the line in today's arguments.

"If the Supreme Court rules against LGBTQ people it will give the president and other anti-LGBTQ people in power a license to take even more dangerous actions to deny us other civil rights," said Simon.

Both Oregon and Washington have passed equality acts that protect the rights of LGBTQ workers.

Mikki Gillette is a trans woman. She was a substitute teacher in Vancouver and was in the process of transitioning when some parents complained to the school district.

"A group of parents in Vancouver attempted to get me fired from my position simply because I am transgender. Fortunately for me, Washington like Oregon is a state with comprehensive protections for LGBTQ people," Gillette said.

The state law on the books saved Gillette, but 30 states do not have these protections in place for LGBTQ workers.

Meantime, people in the LGBTQ community say they are not confident the conservative Supreme Court will rule in their favor.

The Supreme Court has until June 2020 to make its decision.

No matter how the court rules, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley is pushing for a federal equality act that bars discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

However, Sen. Merkley doubts that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will allow that proposed law to be taken up by the Senate.

Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.


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