Women’s Liberation Front files friend-of-the-court brief in Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC and Aimee Stephens

  • Supreme Court

Case highlights the importance of distinguishing between sex and gender for purposes of interpreting nation’s civil rights laws and highlights First Amendment implications of compelling speech.

WASHINGTON – The Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF), an unapologetically radical feminist organization that fights for the rights, privacy, and safety of women and girls, today filed an amicus brief (PDF) in the case of R.G. and G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Aimee Stephens (U.S. Supreme Court Docket No. 18-107). 

In that case, a man named Aimee Stephens sued his previous employer, the R.G. and G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, because the funeral home fired him on the basis of his self-declared “gender identity.” The case is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

In its brief, WoLF argues that sex and gender are distinct concepts that should not be conflated. It states that “[l]egally redefining ‘female’ as anyone who claims to be female results in the erasure of female people as a class. If, as a matter of law, anyone can be a woman, then no one is a woman, and sex-based protections in the law have no meaning whatsoever.” 

WoLF argues that the case presents an opportunity for the Supreme Court to re-affirm previous caselaw holding that discriminatory actions on the basis of sex-stereotyping violate the 1964 Civil Rights Act. 

“Congress knew very well what the word ‘sex’ means when it included that word in the list of categories of people in need of civil rights protections,” said Kara Dansky, who serves on the board of the Women’s Liberation Front. “There is no basis, nor is there any reason, for this Court to hold that sex means anything other than what everyone knows it means.”

The brief goes on to state: “Importantly, re-affirming the prohibition on sex-stereotyping would also protect gay employees against workplace discrimination because heterosexuality functions as a sex-stereotype, in the sense that society tends to presume that people are heterosexual. Taking an action against a homosexual employee because of that person’s sexuality would, therefore, constitute unlawful sex-stereotype sex discrimination.”

WoLF additionally argues that to require an employer, or anyone, to believe and/or state that men can be women violates the First Amendment. “The notion that a man can be a woman, or that a woman can be a man, is nothing other than a belief system, adhered to by a very small segment of society,” said Natasha Chart, the WoLF board Chair. “No one should be required to agree with that belief system, or to use compelled speech to further it.”

Oral arguments in the case are anticipated to occur on October 8, 2019.

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