On Wednesday, President Trump angered the LGBT community by banning transgender people from the military. But his administration made a second, lower-profile move the same day that has similarly angered the gay community. As BuzzFeed reports, the Justice Department filed a legal brief arguing that a federal civil rights law does not protect gay workers from discrimination. The case is actually a private one between an employee and an employer, though it's being closely watched as a matter of precedent, reports the New York Times. The employee is Donald Zarda, a skydiving instructor who was fired by Long Island's Altitude Express in 2010. The firing came after he told a female customer that he was gay, to make her feel more comfortable about being tethered so closely to him during the jump. Her boyfriend complained, and Zarda got canned.
Zarda then sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which explicitly bars discrimination based on sex, though it doesn't mention sexual identity. His view is in sync with the interpretation of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Obama administration's Justice Department, notes the Washington Post, but Jeff Sessions' department differs. "The sole question here is whether, as a matter of law, Title VII reaches sexual orientation discrimination," says the department's brief. "It does not [and] ... any efforts to amend Title VII's scope should be directed to Congress rather than the courts." The New Civil Rights Movement rounds up criticism of that view. It's possible the case won't be settled until it reaches the Supreme Court, though Zarda himself was killed in 2014 in a BASE-jumping accident. His estate is continuing with the lawsuit. (Read more gay rights stories.)