A San Diego man got the chance to attend the LGBT Supreme Court discrimination cases Tuesday morning thanks to a good Samaritan who donated a flight to him.
“I’m here to humanize those stories and let my friends, family, my loved ones and my neighbors know that how you vote, what is happening in DC, is affecting us all the way in San Diego,” said Eddie Reynoso, Executive Director of Equality Business Alliance.
Reynoso said he posted a message on Facebook Thursday, and within two hours, someone donated a flight for him to attend the LGBT Supreme Court case.
He arrived at the Supreme Court Saturday morning and camped out until the court case was heard Tuesday. Reynoso got to go inside the courtroom to hear arguments on two LGBT discrimination cases.
“In California, specifically, we already have laws that protect gender identity and sexual orientation, so we are covered. The thing is there are only 22 states around the nation that are covered; there are 28 states that are not. With California, in particular, during marriage equality, we gained marriage through the courts, and then it was taken away through a constitutional amendment. So, we became complacent. No one thought it was going to happen to California -- liberal California, our bubble of California -- then, lo and behold, it happened. So, it sent us back. This can send us back decades, decades, pre-1964,” said Reynoso.
The first of two cases involved a skydiving instructor and a county government worker in Georgia who were fired for being gay. The second case dealt with fired transgender funeral home director Aimee Stephens, who was in the courtroom for Tuesday's arguments.
The Trump administration and lawyers for the employers hit hard on the changes that might be required in bathrooms, locker rooms, women's shelters and school sports teams if the court were to rule that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 covers LGBT people. Lawmakers, not unelected judges, should change the law, they argued.
Conservative Justice Samuel Alito seemed to agree with that argument, saying Congress in 1964 did not envision covering sexual orientation or gender identity.
"You're trying to change the meaning of 'sex,'" Alito said.
Justice Clarence Thomas, who returned to the bench Tuesday after staying home sick the day before, said nothing, as is his custom.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg countered that Congress also could not have foreseen sexual harassment as a kind of sex discrimination in 1964, either.
Justice Elena Kagan suggested sexual orientation is a clear subset of sex discrimination, saying that a man who loves other men cannot be treated differently by an employer than a woman who loves men.
The cases are the court's first on LGBT rights since Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement and replacement by Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Kennedy was a voice for gay rights and the author of the landmark ruling in 2015 that made same-sex marriage legal throughout the United States. Kavanaugh generally is regarded as more conservative.
A decision is expected by early summer 2020, amid the presidential election campaign.
Reynoso believes everyone should make an effort to be a part of the American process.
“If you have the means to be here, to ever come, to get involved, do it. No one is going to stand up for your rights unless you stand up for them. I came here with nothing and I’m leaving home with nothing. I was able to stand up for myself and stand up for hopefully thousands of other people back home and if not millions of people around the nation. If you have the means, be here. Stand up for someone because if it’s not us that is being oppressed it’s someone else,” said Reynoso.