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New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Trial Lawyer Discusses Missouri Court's decision that it's ok to call a gay employee "cock sucker" and ask if he has AIDS

James Pittman sued the Kansas City based Cook Paper Recycling Corporation last year, alleging that he was fired in 2001 after 7 years. His theory was that he was fired because he was gay. A lower Missouri court had previously dismissed Pittman's suit, and a three panel appeals court upheld that ruling last week (the week of October 26th) in a "split decision." Two Judges were in the majority and said that the Missouri "human rights act" covers only gender, and not sexual orientation.

Now, to be fair, the federal law doesn't cover this, either. In fact, the Non-discrimination in Employment Act (ENDA) has been bouncing around for, if memory serves, about 25 years, and it's never been passed. Why has it never been passed? Because the very loud and obnoxious "biblical right" in The United States constantly threatens any politician who considers equal rights for LGBT people. That's why ENDA has not yet been passed and why, in the immediate future, especially with a "red" Congress, it certainly won't be. 

That means that the Federal Civil Rights Act, which has been trumpeted for the last 50 years as protecting women, religious minorities, ethnic and racial minorities, is still completely silent about the issue of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

In short, federal law, after 50 years of civil rights legislation, still permits employers in states that don't have their own human rights laws to discriminate openly against gay, lesbian and transgender people.

The Court observed that "no matter how compelling Pittman's argument may be and no matter how sympathetic this Court or the Trial Court may be to Pittman's situation, we are bound by the state of the law how it currently exists." This from Chief Justice James Welsh, who noted that Missouri's law only bans discrimination based upon race, color, religious observance, national origin, sex, ancestry, age or disability.

As it happens, these are pretty much the same categories as federal law covers. You'll notice the conspicuous absences of gender identity or expression or sexual orientation.

What was the evidentiary basis for Mr. Pittman's claim? Did he only "feel" or "perceive," perhaps inaccurately, that he was being targeted for his sexual orientation? Was this a situation where he was simply "overly sensitive," as critics of those who suffer discrimination so often suggest to the victims?

Nope.

The paper company's President, Joe Jurden, told Pittman that he was a "cock sucker" and accompanied this with other comments of a sexual nature, derisive of male homosexuals, and he even asked Pittman whether or not he has AIDS. So those being the facts, it's pretty solidly clear what Mr. Jurden thought about a gay man.

And why not? After all, tens of millions of Americans who thump their bibles continue to insist that everyone else live the way they do.

It's even sadder that three Justices of the Missouri Supreme Court need to say what they've had to say. They shouldn't have to say it at all. This shouldn't be the situation at all.

So, to wind this up, and just to be absolutely crystal clear, in The United States, there are more states that don't offer protection to LGBT people than do. In one of those, Missouri, it's OK to kick someone out of their home, ban them from their job, fire them, or even deny them service at a restaurant simply because they're gay. In 2015. The United States at a federal level sanctions this treatment of homosexuals. It's one of the great failures of our time that this hasn't been legislatively repaired by Congress, but given that Congress is constantly teetering at the edge of red or redder, and given that most "red" politicians have to pay substantial lip service to the lunatic fringe, there's not going to be a fix anytime soon. 

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