South Carolina's branch of the American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday condemned state Attorney General Alan Wilson's decision to sign an anti-LGBTQ brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court.
The brief, signed by 15 Republican attorneys general, asks the court to rule against three people who were fired for being LGBTQ and argues that sexual orientation is not included under the umbrella of workplace discrimination prevented by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The cases are the first time the court has agreed to hear arguments regarding transgender rights.
Susan Dunn, the state's ACLU legal director, said Wilson's signing on to the brief shows he is out of touch with the will of South Carolinians to not be fired for who they are as people.
"It sends a message to people who are voters in South Carolina that one of our elected officials is using his precious time and our precious money to do something that we don’t think is right," Dunn said, "and we want to say so loudly."
Wilson said in a statement to The Post and Courier that his signing onto the brief had nothing to do with sexual orientation.
“Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is wrong. Period. However, this brief is about the rule of law," he said. "The Judiciary cannot make the law but only interpret it. We signed onto the brief because we believe it's the job of Congress to write the laws, not the courts to do so.”
Dunn said, however, that letting the U.S. Supreme Court interpret a law's intent is at the core of the cases to be argued in October.
"The way to let that happen is to let the courts work it out, and the courts by and large have worked that out," she said. "They want sex discrimination to be read in absolutely its most narrow way. But the effect of that is to hurt real people."
Chase Glenn, executive director of Charleston-based Alliance for Full Acceptance, said those in the LGBTQ community aren’t asking for special treatment.
"We are simply asking to be able to live free from fear of being fired for who we are," Glenn said. "Taking the step to legalize discrimination based on a person’s gender identity is not only hurtful to trans people, in the end, it’s bad for business.”