July 01, 2020

Wyden, Merkley to Barr: Reverse Anti-LGBTQ Position, Protect Transgender Workers from Discrimination

Washington, D.C. – Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga., which held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBTQ workers from discrimination, Oregon’s U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley joined their colleagues to demand the Department of Justice (DOJ) reverse its anti-LGBTQ position that federal law does not shield transgender workers.

In a letter to Attorney General William Barr, the senators called for DOJ to immediately rescind a 2017 memorandum issued by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions articulating the Justice Department’s current anti-transgender stance. 

“We strongly urge you to rescind a 2017 U.S. Department of Justice memorandum in which former Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered DOJ to take the position that transgender workers are not protected from workplace discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” The senators wrote that the Supreme Court’s decision “compels DOJ to rescind the Sessions memorandum,” which “misstates the law, poses an ongoing threat to the well-being of transgender workers, and invites liability for employers that misguidedly rely upon it.”

The senators continued, “In light of the landmark Bostock decision, there can remain no justification for leaving in place an enforcement policy that flatly contradicts Supreme Court precedent. Accordingly, we call on you to rescind the Sessions memorandum immediately.”

Joining Wyden and Merkley on the letter are Senators Kamala D. Harris, D-Calif., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii, Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Cory A. Booker, D-N.J., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Tim Kaine, D-Va., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Robert P. Casey, Jr., D-Pa., Christopher A. Coons, D-Del., Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Michael F. Bennet, D-Colo., and Tom Carper, D-Del.

A full copy of the letter is available here.