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Anti-Discrimination Laws & The LGBTQ+ Community

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is celebrated in June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York City’s Greenwich Village. On June 27, 1969, eight undercover police officers entered the Stonewall Inn, arresting employees and patrons at the historically LGBTQ+ bar. Around this time, police raids were incredibly common, but, on this night, the crowd decided to fight back. Police were forced to retreat and barricade themselves into the bar and this uprising was the start of what transformed into the gay rights movement.

Since the start of the movement, the nation and the state of Wisconsin have made unprecedented progress towards protecting LGBTQ+ rights. However, the LGBTQ+ community still faces widespread issues due to the fact that the federal government and many states do not have laws in place to protect against discrimination. Discrimination can affect LGBTQ+ individuals in the workplace, educational settings, and their overall quality of life in society.

Protected Classes

A protected class is a group of people with a shared characteristic who are legally protected from discrimination on the basis of that characteristic. Protected classes under the United States federal anti-discrimination law are:

· Race

· Religion

· National origin

· Age

· Sex

· Pregnancy

· Familial status

· Disability status

· Veteran status

· Genetic information

For those who face discrimination for being in the LGBTQ+ community, they often fit into the protected class of Sex as set forth by the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Civil Rights Act of 1964. The protections against discrimination for sexual orientation and gender identity are attributed to the landmark US Supreme Court civil rights case, Bostock v. Clayton County in which the Court determined, in a 6 – 3 decision, that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity was discrimination based on sex.

State vs Federal Laws

Although federal law includes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes, this is not necessarily the case for individual states. Wisconsin approved protections for sexual orientation as a protected group in 1982, making it the first state to do so. However, there are currently no state-level laws against discrimination based on gender identity. Although Wisconsin law punishes hate crimes based on sexual orientation, there are not the same protections for hate crimes based on gender identity.

Wisconsin’s non-discrimination laws protect an individual from being denied services based on their sexual orientation; protect an individual from being fired or harassed in the workplace due to their sexual orientation; and protect an individual from being evicted or treated unfairly within the housing system because of their sexual orientation.

For more information about the laws and statutes protecting an individual from discrimination:

Discrimination Claims The elements that need to be met in order to bring forth a discrimination claim can vary depending on the type of discrimination (employment, education, housing), and the venue in which it happened (state or federal). If you believe that you have been the victim of discrimination, our attorneys at Levine Eisberner LLC may be able to help. Call us at 608-621-2888 for a consultation.


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