Manuel Balce Ceneta | associated press file                                Supporters of LGBTQ+ rights hold placards in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington on Oct. 8, 2019. The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a landmark civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in employment. It’s a resounding victory for LGBTQ+ rights from a conservative court.

Manuel Balce Ceneta | associated press file Supporters of LGBTQ+ rights hold placards in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington on Oct. 8, 2019. The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a landmark civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in employment. It’s a resounding victory for LGBTQ+ rights from a conservative court.

Alaskans celebrate Supreme Court decision protecting LGBTQ+ rights

The 6-3 decision is a resounding victory for the LGBTQ+ community.

The Supreme Court reaffirmed protection of LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination in the workplace in a 6-3 decision Monday.

“It means that under federal law, an employer who fires an employee just for being gay or transgender violates the Civil Rights Act. It’s a huge, huge victory and I was really thrilled to see it,” said Libby Bakalar, a board member with the Southeast Alaska LGBTQ+ Alliance in a phone interview, speaking in a personal capacity. “It’s a pretty simple, straightforward victory.”

The protection created by the Supreme Court decision stands in stark contrast to many states, which do not have statutes barring discrimination against LGBTQ+ employees in place.

“Alaska is one of the states with no protections for sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Jennifer Fletcher, transgender woman and treasurer of SEAGLA, in a phone interview. “This will extend those protections to Alaskans. That is outstanding.”

How this will affect ongoing related court cases, as well as how this will affect institutions like the military, has yet to be seen.

While some cities in Alaska, including Juneau, have some protections in place, Bakalar said, the ruling will extend that workplace protection to all Alaskans. An executive order previously protected state employees, Fletcher said, but this covers all employees, everywhere in the U.S.

State reports 29 new COVID-19 cases

“We have sort of a hodgepodge patchwork,” Bakalar said. “There’s no general blanket state law that’s analogous to the Civil Rights Act. Until today, that left folks vulnerable to discrimination.”

The decision is also a good sign for people who worried that the justices appointed by President Donald Trump would ignore their responsibilities to their Supreme Court and decide based on political affiliation instead, Bakalar said.

“It’s a huge victory for the country and the court,” Bakalar said. “I think today’s decision is a relief for people who watch (the Supreme Court). That tells us the court is operating the way it should be.”

Others echoed that sentiment, including Alaska legislators. Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, who has put forward a bill to protect Alaskans from all forms of discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation, was one of them.

Josephson said the Supreme Court’s decision and his bill do not perfectly overlap — the bill would protect against discrimination in housing and lending as well as employment — but he still welcomed the protections created by the court’s decision.

“It is a great day for LGBT rights,” Josephson said in an email. “Further, Justices Roberts and Gorsuch prove to American conservatives that they are men who are willing to look at each case uniquely and thoughtfully.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, also released a statement praising the Supreme Court’s decision. Sen. Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young’s office did not immediately respond to inquiries.

“People should not live in fear of being discriminated against or losing their job because of their LGBTQ status,” Murkowski said in a statement.

“I am pleased to see today’s Supreme Court holding that existing federal civil rights law protects individuals from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“This is long overdue, and is significant progress as we seek to protect and uphold the rights and equality of all Americans.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757.621.1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

More in News

Drummers perform during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, July 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenaitze tribe celebrates 10 years of ‘far-fetched dream’ at wellness center

Community members recognized the work done at the Dena’ina Wellness Center over the past decade

The Kenai Safeway is seen on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai and Soldotna Safeways may be sold under proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger

The local stores will be sold to CS Wholesale Grocers only if the merger overcomes suit from the FTC

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Draft plan published for disbursement of $11.5 million in 2021 and 2022 ESSN disasters

Public comment will be accepted for the draft spend plan until July 24

The Kasilof River is seen from the Kasilof River Recreation Area, July 30, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
King salmon fishing closed on Kasilof starting Monday

The emergency order is being issued to protect returning king salmon, citing weak returns

Soldotna City Hall is seen on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna’s city council appropriates funds for FY 2025 capital projects

Improvements are described for streets, police facility, Soldotna Creek Park and Soldotna Community Memorial Park

Gina Plank processes sockeye salmon caught on the first day of Kenai River dipnetting with her table set up on the bank of the Kenai River in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai River open for dipnetting

As of Tuesday, a total of 226,000 sockeye had been counted in the Kenai River’s late run

Assembly Vice President Tyson Cox speaks during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly won’t pursue further discussion on tabled bed tax resolution

Members say they’re going to work on a new version of the idea this winter

Gov. Mike Dunleavy pictured with members of the House majority after signing the fiscal year 2025 budget bills, Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Anchorage, Alaska. From left to right: Reps. Stanley Wright, Tom McKay, Thomas Baker, Craig Johnson, Kevin McCabe, Julie Coulombe and Laddie Shaw. (Photo provided by Office of the Governor)
Dunleavy signs capital budget with $3.7M in state funding for Kenai Peninsula, vetoes $3.3M

Roughly $90 million in federal funding also allocated to Kenai Peninsula

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Soldotna man arrested Friday after 30-minute police chase

The man had an outstanding warrant for felony probation violation

Most Read