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San Diego LGBTQ Activists Celebrate Landmark Civil Rights Ruling

San Diego Pride attendees march during the parade, July 2017.
KPBS Staff
San Diego Pride attendees march during the parade, July 2017.

San Diego LGBTQ rights activists are celebrating Monday's landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling as a victory for all people facing discrimination and injustice.

The nation's highest court found the 1964 Civil Rights Act applies to employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. This means people can sue if they have reason to believe they were fired for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Cara Dessert, CEO of the San Diego LGBT Community Center, said it's noteworthy that the ruling is based on legislation passed in the 1960s to protect black people and women from discrimination.

"The LGBTQ community was able to use those laws that are precedent to say, 'And under these laws, we are also protected,'" Dessert said. "So it's a huge victory for an intersectional community. It is again a victory for racial justice, for gender equality and for LGBTQ rights everywhere."

California law has barred employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation since 1992. Those laws were strengthened over the years, and in 2003 were expanded to cover discrimination based on a person's gender identity.

Richard Segal, a San Diego-based attorney and member of the Lambda Legal National Leadership Council, said prior to Monday's decision, those protections could disappear if a gay or trans person were offered a job in another state.

"They would have to choose between moving to a state without this protection or losing his or her job," Segal said. "So it allows, basically, people to participate fully in the economy, even if they're here in the moment but they wouldn't be otherwise limited."

National LGBTQ rights activists were planning a virtual rally and townhall Monday to mark the ruling. San Diego activists are planning a separate online celebration Tuesday evening.

San Diego LGBTQ Activists Celebrate Landmark Civil Rights Ruling
Listen to this story by Andrew Bowen.