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Discriminating against an individual who belongs to a protected class is against the law in the United States. A protected class is a group of people who are legally protected from employment discrimination, and includes those in the LGBT community. Below, you will find information you need to know about LGBT laws and your civil rights.

History of LGBT Rights

Illinois was the first state to repeal sodomy laws. Later on, other states also became more open to affording the LGBT community civil rights and protection, which was spurred on by the cases of Bowers v. Hardwick, and Lawrence v. Texas. People in the gay community gained more freedom, following the Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas. Historically, the law, as well as numerous individuals, have considered same-sex relationships to be unnatural, and therefore wrong. This discriminatory thinking led not only to discrimination in the workplace, but also resulted in violence against members of the LGBT community. Additionally, some remaining states do not offer non-discrimination protection for people based on sexual orientation or transgender status.

While the U.S. may be progressively more accepting of the gay community, it has a long way to go. Some countries still allow discriminatory practices against the LGBT community, largely due to religious beliefs.

LGBT Rights Today and the Future

In 2010, the Obama administration prohibited discrimination against the LGBT community. Under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the civil rights of employees, which includes their sexual orientation, became universally protected by law. Since then, any form of gender-based discrimination in the workplace such as refusal to hire, unlawful termination, harassment, bullying, and limiting access to benefits is now punishable by law. Though sexual orientation is not explicitly stated in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the EEOC treats discrimination based upon sexual orientation similarly to other protected classes. Some states, however, do not have explicit language in their laws prohibiting discrimination against LGBT individuals. If discrimination has occurred, a complaint should be filed with the EEOC.

Sodomy laws have been considered to be an invasion of one’s privacy since Lawrence v. Texas. Additionally, same-sex relationships became legalized. In 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of recognition of same-sex marriage in the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges. In writing the decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote:

"Marriage is sacred to those who live by their religions and offers unique fulfillment to those who find meaning in the secular realm... [it] allows two people to find a life that could not be found alone, for a marriage becomes greater than two persons. Rising from the most basic human needs, marriage is essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations... In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in this case demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage... They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."

In the past, gay and transgendered individuals were afraid of applying for jobs for fear of potential consequences. As the political climate has begun to shift, transgendered employers and employees are becoming more widely-accepted as productive members of the workforce. For 15 years, the National Center for Transgender Equality has been protecting transgendered persons who still experience discrimination in both the public and private sectors. It is important to note however, that some states are much more LGBT-friendly than others, and unfortunately, members of the community still must exercise caution for their safety and wellbeing.

What can you do if you face discrimination because you are LGBT?

If you are currently experiencing or have experienced any form of discrimination or humiliation because you are gay, bisexual, or transgender, you have the right to speak up and find the right LGBT lawyer for your case. Private employers tend to get away with more abhorrent behavior, but they cannot, in any way, deprive you of your civil rights. All public employers are prohibited from making rude remarks and committing discriminatory acts against an LGBT person, as they are a representation of the government.

Whether you are gay, bisexual, or transgender, you are entitled to stand up for your rights and gain legal assistance. You might be wondering, “Where can I find LGBT lawyers near me?” You can now hire a reputable LGBT attorney within your area through the help of LegalMatch. LegalMatch seeks to help all individuals, regardless if you are straight or LGBT, to fight for their rights by matching their cases to straight or LGBT lawyers. You deserve to recover losses for any form of discrimination, especially in the workplace. One might ask, “How can I find an LGBT lawyer near me?” Through LegalMatch, all you have to do is to present your discrimination case and choose the LGBT attorney that will represent your needs and your case in the best way possible. Since 1999, LegalMatch has helped over 4 million individuals, including the LGBT community, in finding a lawyer for legal advice or legal representation in court.

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Highly Rated Lawyers at LegalMatch

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