Here’s the three LGBTIQ heroes behind landmark US Supreme Court ruling

supreme court plaintiffs aimee stephens donald zarda gerald bostock
Photos: Supplied/CNN/Human Rights Campaign

Aimee Stephens, Gerald Bostock and Donald Zarda are the three LGBTIQ plaintiffs whose cases prompted a landmark US Supreme Court anti-discrimination ruling.

In a major civil rights victory, the court ruled existing laws protect LGBTIQ people from workplace discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Advocates are also celebrating the three plaintiffs in the case, who all suffered alleged discrimination at work. All three fought their respective cases in lower courts for several years. Their cases will now return to courts for individual rulings. However sadly only one survived to see the Supreme Court decision.

Gerald Bostock (pictured, right) worked as a child welfare coordinator in Clayton County, Georgia.

However, his boss discovered Bostock belonged to a gay softball league and fired him in 2013, claiming he’d mismanaged funds. Bostock argued the real reason for his firing was his sexuality.

Bostock said he was “elated” at the Supreme Court ruling. He said his sacking seven years ago “devastated” him but “this fight became about so much more than me.”

He said he was “sincerely grateful” to the Supreme Court, his attorneys, advocacy groups and supporters.

“Today, we can go to work without the fear of being fired for who we are and who we love,” Bostock said.

“Yet, there is more work to be done. Discrimination has no place in this world. I will not rest until we have equal rights for all.”

Two other plaintiffs didn’t live to see US Supreme Court ruling

New York skydiving company Altitude Express fired Donald Zarda (pictured left) allegedly because of his sexuality in 2010. He sadly died in an accident in 2014.

Before a tandem skydive with a woman, Zarda tried to put her at ease over the close physical contact required by telling her that he’s “100% gay”.

The customer complained and the company sacked Varda and told him he’d shared “inappropriate information” with a customer.

Ahead of the ruling, Zarda’s partner Bill Moore said he missed Don and the case brought up “painful memories”.

“But I know how important it is. Don would want me to keep fighting not just on his behalf, but on behalf of all the LGBT+ people in this country for whom workplaces remain unsafe and inhospitable,” he said.

“It would be life-changing for so many people. [They can] stop worrying and know they can simply be themselves.”

Transgender woman Aimee Stephens passed away last month

A Michigan funeral home sacked Aimee Stephens (pictured centre) after she came out as transgender. Stephens sadly passed away on May 12.

The funeral home’s owner argued in court he “believes the Bible teaches that a person’s sex is an immutable God-given gift”.

In a statement written before her death, she said, “Firing me because I’m transgender was discrimination, plain and simple.”

She said the court’s ruling would have made her and her trans siblings “feel safer and more included in society.”

Her widow Donna Stephens said: “For the last seven years of Aimee’s life, she rose as a leader who fought against discrimination against transgender people.

“[It] started when she was fired for coming out as a woman, despite her recent promotion at the time.

“I am grateful for this victory to honour Aimee’s legacy and to ensure people are treated fairly regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

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