In honor of Pride Month, we at RTM Law would like to walk our readers through the legislative history of LGBTQ+ rights--more specifically the legal protection available for transgender individuals in the housing market and workplace.
Definition: Throughout this article, we use the word “transgender” as a person whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth.
Discrimination in the Housing Market:
In the state of California, it is illegal to discriminate people from housing based on sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The Fair Housing Act protects members of the LGBTQ+ community from mistreatment when buying/selling a property and taking out a mortgage1. The Fair Housing Act also encompasses protection from discrimination in homeless shelters, transitional housing, and property insurance. Individuals who identify as transgender are increasingly included in this bracket in Court, under the Fair Housing Act.
If you or a loved one has been turned away from housing on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, you have grounds to contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) about your situation. Reach out to an attorney to help structure an argument that will help you get the equity and respect you deserve.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act identifies LGBTQ+ discrimination as a federal crime. Moreover the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) makes it illegal for employers to harass, fire, demote, or wage discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity for workplaces with more than five employees.2 Under the FEHA, individuals are protected if they decide to come out, transition, or identify as non-conforming during their employment. Additionally, all employees reserve the right to use the restroom of their identified gender--which must be labeled as gender neutral for single stalls. Dress codes also must not discriminate against neither gender identity nor gender expression.
Moreover, an employer's failure to adopt the proper pronouns requested by an employee can be viewed as harassment and therefore grounds for legal action. However, employers do not have the right to ask for an employee's sexual orientation or gender identity during the hiring process. Thus, you should never feel pressured to provide employers with this information in an interview--it is against the law.
We at RTM Law stand as allies with the LGBTQ+ community and are dedicated to protecting the rights of all our clients, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation. As such, we would like to highlight and celebrate key individuals who have been instrumental advocates and inspiration in the field of LGBTQ+ rights.
- Abby Rubenfeld: Gay rights activist, Rubenfeld served as the attorney who overturned the Tennesse sodony laws and involved Tennessee in the Supreme Court which ultimately legalized gay marriage across the world.
- Alfonso David: David worked on the first same-sex marriage case in New York as an attorney. He was also the first POC to serve as president of the Human Rights Campaign.
Here are a few out of the many historically notable legal cases3 which had major impacts on the development of LGBTQ+ rights--both positive and negative.
- Baker v. Nelson (1972): Marks the first time gay marriage was disputed under the Supreme Court.
- Romer v. Evans (1996): Ensures LGBTQ+ members are not singled out from laws--such as the 14th Ammendment--that protect all people from discrimination, no matter the orientation or identity.
- Lawrence v. Texas (2003): Eliminated sodony laws.
- Obergefell v. Hodges (2015): Granted same-sex couples the right to obtain official marriage licenses.
- Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018): Ruled that the owner of a bakeshop could refuse to serve wedding cake to a same-sex couple.
While there still is much work to be done, Pride month serves as a time to reflect and celebrate the triumphs of self-expression. We wish all our readers a happy end to their Pride month and intend for the momentum to continue throughout 2021.
For additional details on LGBTQ+ rights and legal representation, we recommend checking out the following resources:
Contact Ramin Montakab for more information on your legal rights and representation. Call (949) 424-6784 for a free 15-minute consultation.
1Know Your Rights: Fair Housing and Transgender People. (2012, March). National Center for Transgender Equality.
2California LGBTQ Employment Rights: ACLU of Northern CA. ACLU of Northern California. (2020, June 16).
3Law, T. (2019, October 8). 9 Landmark Supreme Court Cases That Shaped LGBTQ Rights in America. TIME.