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Employment discrimination next great battle for gay rights' groups

The United States Supreme Court ruling that issued late last month legalizing same-sex marriage across the country was, of course, both historical and seminal. In a 5-4 opinion, justices held that the remaining minority of states that had gay-marriage bans immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples seeking to wed and recognize same-sex marriages consummated in other states, such as California.

As welcome as such news obviously was for advocates of same-sex unions and their supporters, it did not result in a concomitant right of gay persons to be free from various forms of discrimination everywhere across the country.

Indeed, and although the court's ruling was materially important and representative of an evolving national view, it merely presages what a recent Los Angeles Times article calls "the next great battle."

Namely, that is the push to greatly expand federal protections that already exist for gays in the workplace to all work environments across the country, and to extend federal safeguards in other areas (like housing), as well.

Some people might reasonably assume that gay persons are as sufficiently protected against discrimination at their places of employment as are other workers. A gay worker suffering from workplace discrimination can rely upon already operative and strong laws to safeguard him or her against discriminatory behavior, right?

Short answer: not always, and only in some places.

As noted in the above-cited article, only a minority of states and the District of Columbia "have laws against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation."

Given the lack of comprehensive protection accorded gay workers at every workplace in the United States, the aforementioned battle to extend federal protections looms large.

We'll take a closer look at this subject matter in our next blog post.