Glimmers in the Gloom
It’s sometimes difficult to be hopeful in these Crazy Years. I mean that term somewhat literally. Yes, there have been major disturbing events every 5-10 years since at least WW2. From the A-bomb to the Korean War to the assassination of JFK to the duel assassinations in ’68 to Watergate to the Iranian Hostages to Iran/Contra, Gulf War, impeachment, Bush v. Gore, 9/11, Forever War, Great Recession, you get the idea. But what’s different now, it seems to me, is not the crazy news but the crazy way in which the public is reacting now as opposed to previous “events.”
Within the context of the flood of abnormal, corrupt, irrational, abhorrent, headlines that pour out of DC (not just the Administration but also how the GOP majority works with and for Trump and covers for things they would have absolutely rioted about had it been the previous president) which is enough to darken the heart of the strongest optimist the only ray of hope is the signs that 2018 will be a very good year at the polls for the opposition. However, ever how dark things are for the sane voter in general, for trans (and LGB) persons things can look even darker. while there’s never been an actual LGB/T friendly Republican in power on the national level, there’s never been one as nakedly hostile to our interests than Donald Trump (nevermind the abject insanity of the Log Cabin Republicans). And the most lasting impact of the plethora of bigoted choices they are making is their ongoing campaign – with the complicity of Senate Republicans – is packing the federal courts with openly hostile judicial nominees. The Republicans deliberately obstructed President Obama’s judicial nominations (not just Scalia’s seat) to an unprecedented level and he therefore has a dramatically higher than normal number of open seats to fill and the Republican controlled senate has greased the rails and hardly blinked at some of the most insane nominees. To a man their background is – among other serious faults – proudly anti-LGBT. Which is why you are not doing all you can to help elect more Democrat Senators you’re doing it wrong.
But it’s in that context that stories like this one shine all the more. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, in a decision rendered by the full (most cases are initially considered by a three-judge panel) voted 10-3 to reverse a previous precedent and uphold the contention that discrimination against homosexuals (and by implication, though unmentioned, trans people) is be definition discrimination based on sex as prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. This case, known as the Zarda case, makes the second circuit Court of Appeals to reach this conclusion (another circuit has reached the opposite conclusion) and it aligns with what the EEOC has been arguing for several years now, and the position of the Department of Justice before Trump took office (one of their bizarre moves was reversing the DoJ position and intervening in this case to argue the opposite position and in so doing pit one federal agency against another, more autonomous, one). The conflict between circuits is typically a recipe for the Supreme Court to hear an appeal, which is presumably coming, but given the potential for another Trump choice for SCOTUS before he’s gone, it’s better for this case to reach the high court now. A win there would revolutionize the way courts require governments to deal with LGB/T discrimination claims even more so than Obergefell did.
Of course, with the make-up of the court in some flux given the age of some of the justices, no court precedent is truly safe so it’s possible for one to say “count not your chickens” here, but it’s indisputable that the Zarda decision is unvarnished good news and cause for hope. In these Crazy Years, you have to take what you can get.
Photo by: Joe Gratz