For Immediate Release
October 6, 2017
WASHINGTON—On Wednesday, October 4, the Department of Justice issued a memorandum stating that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect transgender employees in their places of work. In the memorandum, Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote, "Title VII's prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status." This decision is a reversal of guidance set forth by the Obama Administration in 2014 as well as decisions passed down by federal courts in several cases. In response to the Department of Justice's discriminatory interpretation of Title VII, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, Central Conference of American Rabbis, and wider Reform Movement:
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms the decision of the Department of Justice to permit employment discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming people. This appalling and demeaning decision ignores the plain fact that gender identity and gender expression are fundamental parts of a person's humanity.
“This administration’s permissive stance toward discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming people, as well as other members of the LGBTQ community, is immoral and undermines our best traditions of inclusion. This decision is a reminder why Congress must pass the Equality Act (H.R. 2282/S. 1006), which would codify the rights of all people, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“The Reform Movement is strongly committed to the inclusion and equality for all people, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. We stand firmly against any attempts to undermine the Civil Rights Act and the protections it affords Americans. As Jews, we are taught that all people are created in the image of God, or b’tzelem Elohim. We strongly oppose this latest order from the Department of Justice, its narrow view of who is worthy of protection before the law, and the invitation to discriminate that it represents.”
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.
Sarah Garfinkel, West End Strategy Team