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Dignity, Respect And Validation: Arizona's First Openly Transgender Judge On The Supreme Court's LGBTQ Ruling

On June 15, the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling — one that says the Civil Rights Act protects gay and transgender people from employment discrimination.

In the 6-3 ruling, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion, and he stated that it's impossible to discriminate against a person for being LGBTQ without discriminating based on sex.

"So when you say you're discriminating against someone because they're gay, you're necessarily assuming, 'OK, this person is a man who prefers partnering with other men, or a woman who prefers partnering with other women,' and that necessarily requires an assessment of the person's sex." Gorsuch said. "And so that is per se sex discrimination, even if the employer says, 'Well, what I was really upset about is the fact that the person is gay.'"

Abby Louise Jensen is the legal director for the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance, and she says the ruling will have far-reaching consequences beyond employment.

Before the ruling, the Trump administration released a new rule that explicitly excluded transgender people from being protected by healthcare nondiscrimination protections.

Jensen said the Supreme Court has set a precedent that will make it much easier to challenge that rule and others.

"The key as to how it affects other statutes here in Arizona is that most other sex discrimination statutes include that same phrase, 'because of sex' or 'on the basis of sex.'" Jensen said. "Because the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted that phrase, every other court that's gonna be looking at another statute or city ordinance that has that language in it, is going to be hard-pressed to say well, 'Okay that's what the supreme court said under Title 7, but I don't think it means that in this statue.'"

Jensen said this won't happen overnight when it comes to discrimination in say, public accommodations or housing, but it will give claimants stronger legal ground to stand on.

The Show spoke more about the ruling and its impact with Maricopa County Superior Court, Commissioner Tracy Nadzeija who is the the first openly transgender judge in Arizona.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.