More Than 100 Protestors Arrested as Supreme Court Hears LGBTQ Rights Cases

More than 100 protestors were arrested in Washington, D.C., Tuesday as the Supreme Court heard arguments in cases involving LGBTQ rights.

Police arrested 133 protestors for "Crowding, Obstructing, or Incommoding," Capitol Police spokesperson Eva Malecki told Gay City News. More than 500 people are believed to have participated in the protest.

The demonstration was organized by the advocacy group Housing Works, who announced the protest in September, alongside plans to bus participants to the protest from the group's New York City base.

The group describes itself as "a healing community of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS," and it states their mission is "to end the dual crises of homelessness and AIDS through relentless advocacy, the provision of lifesaving services, and entrepreneurial businesses that sustain our efforts."

"#LGBTQRights are #CivilRights!! Today we are demanding the #SCOTUS to uphold queer and trans employment rights #RiseUpOctober8 #WeAreTheWorkforce," the group tweeted Tuesday.

#LGBTQRights are #CivilRights !!
Today, we are demanding the #SCOTUS to uphold queer and trans employment righsts.#RiseUpOctober8 #WeAreTheWorkforce

— Housing Works (@housingworks) October 8, 2019

The tweet included a video, which shows protestors carrying a rainbow banner bearing the words "Human Rights for All" while walking down a street and shouting chants that included "trans lives matter," "no fear no hate no license to discriminate" and "two, four, six, eight how do you know your kids are straight?"

The group eventually gathered at an intersection near the Supreme Court. Some could be seen brandishing signs that read "We Will Fight Back," "Imagine Equality," "We are the Workforce" and "Trans Rights Are Civil Rights Are Human Rights."

Later in the video, some of the protestors sit down in the street, surrounded by police, photographers and onlookers.

Supreme Court LGBTQ Protest
Protestors in favor of LGBTQ rights, gathered outside the Supreme Court Tuesday. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images/Getty

The protest happened as the Supreme Court heard opening arguments in two cases that observers believe are crucial to LGBTQ employment rights.

In one of the cases, a man claims he was fired from his job as a child welfare services coordinator in Georgia after employers discovered he was gay. The case was consolidated with another previously separate case, where the estate of a New York man employed as a skydiving instructor made a similar claim about being fired over sexual orientation. The other case involves a Michigan woman who claims she was fired from her job at a funeral home for coming out as transgender.

Advocates fear the new conservative majority of the court will strike a blow against LGBTQ rights in the cases, and the Trump administration seems to be pushing for such a move. Both cases hinge on the court's interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The key issue is whether the words "because of sex" apply to sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Trump administration has made its position clear, filing briefs in support of the employers in the cases, as have several conservative groups. Although some states have their own legal protections concerning LGBTQ employment rights, the cases could effectively end up legalizing employment discrimination against LGBTQ people on a federal level.

The cases have yet to be decided, and although nothing specific has been announced, it seems likely further protests will continue until and after they reach their conclusions.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the current state protections for LGBTQ+ people in the workplace.

LGBTQ state protections law statista
State protections for LGBTQ people in the workplace. Statista

This article was updated to include an infographic.