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LGBTQ+ community members react to Supreme Court ruling

(WBAY)
Published: Jun. 15, 2020 at 4:51 PM CDT
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Many LGBTQ+ community members, and advocacy groups like Diverse and Resilient, agree the Supreme Court’s ruling that people are protected from workplace discrimination regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity was an unexpected win.

“I was very shocked but really happy with the ruling today,” said Ben Bruso, who lives in Appleton. “It means a lot to me as a gay man and it means a lot for my community members as well.”

“I was in shock because I didn’t think it was going to go this way,” said Kathy Flores, Diverse and Resilient Program Director. “We were preparing for a different decision.”

Kathy Flores is Diverse and Resilient’s Program Director. She says for Wisconsin, the ruling will be especially helpful for transgender people.

“Wisconsin has always been a state that protected people in employment for sexual orientation, but we have yet to pass laws to protect transgender employees in this state. And this covers transgender employees across the nation,” said Flores. “So this is a huge win for transgender people as well as gay, lesbian, pansexual, queer, any identity."

“Currently I work for an employer that includes gender identity in their non-discrimination clause, so I don’t experience it right now,” said Zephyr Kendzierski, who lives in Appleton. “That’s a privilege though, I mean, that’s not something that had been available throughout the state for other employees.”

Both Kendzierski and Flores say they’ve experienced forms of work discrimination in the past, and that it continued to be a reality for others.

“A lot of them are suffering quietly, and now I hope this decision gives them some celebration today,” said Flores.

“It’s huge, especially if you think about people just wanting to take care of themselves and their families financially and have meaningful work, and just go to work and do what they love to do,” said Kendzierski. “So to be able to do that without fear of being discriminated against is huge.”

Though they were happily surprised by the decision, they say there’s still a lot of work to do. Pointing out that, just recently, President Trump’s administration finalized a rule that overturns Obama-era protections for transgender people against sex discrimination in health care.

“We still have healthcare discrimination that happens, especially for transgender people, we have housing discrimination,” said Flores. “But this opens the door for us to get those rights as well.”

"I've experienced healthcare discrimination and I think that's the next stop, that's the next big action that needs to take place," said Bruso.

Even still, they see the recent ruling as a significant step forward.

“During Pride Month I think that this is extra special… this is really important and it shows that because of who you love or who you are, it doesn’t matter,” said Bruso. “You should not face any type of discrimination and that your contributions to society are greatly important and they’re needed.”

“This is a huge win, and we’re very thrilled,” said Flores.

Diverse and Resilient is hosting a Facebook live event with former U.S. Attorney Jim Santelle at 7 p.m. Monday June 15. You can find the Facebook page

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For additional coverage on the Surpreme Court case,

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