Media Contact

Tyler Richard, 402-202-6211, 
Dana Chicklas, 734-945-8857,

June 15, 2020

Update: Listen to the ACLU media briefing held the morning of the SCOTUS decision and victory.


WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court today ruled in a trio of cases that it is against the law to fire people for being LGBTQ. The ACLU was counsel in the cases of Aimee Stephens and Don Zarda and argued Ms. Stephens’ case. 
Donna Stephens, Aimee Stephens’ wife of 20 years, issued this statement: 
“My wife Aimee was my soulmate. We were married for 20 years. For the last seven years of Aimee’s life, she rose as a leader who fought against discrimination against transgender people, starting when she was fired for coming out as a woman, despite her recent promotion at the time. I am grateful for this victory to honor the legacy of Aimee, and to ensure people are treated fairly regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.” 
Aimee Stephens, before her death, shared the following when discussing a possible ruling in her favor: 
“Firing me because I’m transgender was discrimination, plain and simple, and I am glad the Court recognized that what happened to me is wrong and illegal. I am thankful that the Court said my transgender siblings and I have a place in our laws—it made me feel safer and more included in society.”  

Jay Kaplan, ACLU of Michigan LGBT Project Staff Attorney, has this reaction: 

“Today we celebrate this victory as the Supreme Court ruled employers cannot discriminate against LGBTQ people. This ruling moves our country forward and affirms legal protections in the workplace, housing, and health care – but, as Aimee Stephens always advocated for, we still have work to do. We call on Congress to affirm this decision by passing the Equality Act, and in Michigan, we call on our state legislature to amend Michigan’s civil rights laws, including the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, to explicitly protect LGBTQ people from all discrimination.”  
James Esseks, Director of the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project had the following response: 
“This is a huge victory for LGBTQ equality. The Supreme Court’s clarification that it’s unlawful to fire people because they’re LGBTQ is the result of decades of advocates fighting for our rights. Over 50 years ago, Black and Brown trans women, drag queens, and butch lesbians fought back against police brutality and discrimination that too many LGBTQ people still face. The court is simply catching up to the majority of our country, which already knows that discriminating against LGBTQ people is both unfair and against the law. We celebrate the LGBTQ people, including our clients Aimee Stephens and Don Zarda, as well as Donna Stephens, Aimee’s wife, and Bill Moore and Melissa Zarda, Don’s former partner and sister, who moved these cases forward after they died. 

“Our work is not done. There are still alarming gaps in federal civil rights laws that leave people — particularly Black and Brown LGBTQ people — open to discrimination in businesses open to the public and taxpayer funded programs. Congress must affirm today’s decision and update our laws to ensure comprehensive and explicit protections for LGBTQ people and all people who face discrimination.” 
The ACLU will host a press briefing today at 11:30 a.m. ET to discuss the ruling and what it means for LGBTQ rights going forward. Please RSVP to Dial-in information is below: 
Dial-in number: 800-367-2403 
Passcode: 8909879