America’s “Religious” Right is Neither
And They Have Conned Others Into Going Against Their Own Interests
On Tuesday, October 8, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC & Aimee Stephens case. The case centers around Aimee Stephens, who had worked as a funeral director in Michigan until she came out as transgender and was summarily fired.
Her boss allegedly saw it as a dress code issue: in his eyes she would still be a man and it would be wrong for her to come to work dressed as a woman. Tortured logic, to be sure, all resting on his belief that transgender people don’t exist.
Enter “Religious” Right Opportunists
Because Stephens’ employer claimed his bigotry came from some deep-seated religious belief — and because it went along with the agenda of conservative Christian groups — organizations like Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) came out of the woodwork and defended the employer in court.
The EEOC took up her case and sued the funeral home on her behalf. Stephens lost at the local level (the conservative attitudes in Michigan were a big part of the reason I moved out of the state several years ago), but won in the Sixth U.S. Circuit. Perhaps it should not be a surprise she won in the Sixth Circuit, as this court also set a precedent several years ago with Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins.
In that case, a woman was passed over for promotion and salary increases for not dressing “feminine” enough. The court ruled against her employer, saying that someone cannot be discriminated against for dressing in a gender non conforming way at work. It had been the law of the land — at least for that part of the country — ever since.
Until now. At the same time that Stephens’s case was working it’s way through the courts, other cases were coming through in other parts of the country, mostly concerning sexual orientation. The circuits were split on whether Title VII sexual orientation and gender identity. (And by split, I mean one circuit reached the opposite conclusion of the other three). ADF saw their chance and asked SCOTUS on behalf of the funeral home to hear their case.