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New York Times Quotes Professor David S. Cohen on Justice Kennedy’s Gay-Rights Legacy

David S. Cohen

July 20, 2017

A case heading toward the Supreme Court with the potential to safeguard gay rights beyond matrimony will depend on Justice Anthony Kennedy, Professor David S. Cohen said in a New York Times article published on July 17.

The high court’s landmark 2015 ruling that upholds gay marriage does nothing to protect against discrimination in the workplace and in public accommodations, Cohen said.

“You can get married, put a picture on your desk from the wedding and then be fired because the boss sees the picture,” Cohen said, noting that about 20 states have enacted laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace.

“Marriage was certainly an important step, but it doesn’t change the fact that there is no federal law protecting against sexual-orientation discrimination in employment or housing or education or public accommodations,” Cohen said.

The article notes that gay rights advocates will seek a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court before Kennedy retires on a case that would bar employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation.

“Certainly anything trying to protect people from discrimination in any form is going to fare better with Justice Kennedy on the court than with another Trump appointee,” he said, “although I certainly don’t think it’s a slam dunk with Justice Kennedy.”