He Won A Landmark Supreme Court Case That Changes LGBTQ History, But He Lost Nearly Everything To Make It Happen

In a 6–3 decision on Monday, the court held that a federal law prohibiting workplace discrimination based on “sex” — Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — applied to cases involving LGBTQ workers.

The other lead plaintiffs in the case, argued by the ACLU, did not live to see the ruling. Donald Zarda, who lost his skydiving job in 2010 after telling a customer he was gay, died in a BASE jumping accident in 2014. Aimee Stephens, a trans woman who fought against losing her job in 2013 when she started wearing women’s clothes, died in May.

“I’m saddened they are not here with us to experience this joy and their victory,” Bostock said.

The victory has been hard-fought, he added, describing the last seven years of his life as “difficult” and “exhausting.”

He lost his income and his medical insurance — at the time he was fired, he was undergoing treatment for prostate cancer — and sold his home and moved away.

“I lost friends,” he continued. “I lost colleagues I worked side by side with for many many years.”

He rebuilt his life, but mounting a historic legal challenge is not for the faint of heart.

“I’m in debt from a result of it,” Bostock said. “My health was challenged because of it. The stress alone prolonged my prostate cancer.”

But the losses have been worth it, he added.

“I will tell you this: I don’t regret one decision,” he said. “It’s been quite the road, but one that had to be taken. I was willing to stand up and carry this as far as it had to go.”

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee, wrote the majority ruling. Bostock said he’d predicted the justices would rule in favor 6–3, and that Gorsuch would support him. “I’m not surprised at all,” he said.

His attorney, Tom Mew, said the argument they advanced was specifically regarding the “the plain language of the statute and its treatment in case law by the Supreme Court,” and they had suspected Gorsuch, who has a conservative legal decision–making approach known as textualism, rooted in the text of the law, would support them.

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