A federal judge in Texas has ruled that discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in healthcare settings is perfectly legal.
In its landmark 2020 decision in Bostock v Clayton County, the US Supreme Court ruled that existing provisions under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlaw discrimination based on sex, also apply to cases where “an employer fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender”.
In May 2021, the Biden administration said that these protections should also extend to healthcare, with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announcing that everyone – including LGBTQ+ people – would be able access healthcare without the fear of discrimination.
The distinction was made that Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, which bans healthcare providers from discriminating on the basis of sex, also covered gender identity and sexual orientation.
But on Friday (11 November), Trump-appointed US District judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled that healthcare discrimination should not be prohibited.
The case was brought by two Texas doctors – Susan Neese and James Hurly – who said being unable to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people would interfere with their ability to practice medicine.
According to Reuters, Kacsmaryk said that legislators could have included LGBTQ+ discrimination protections in the 2010 Affordable Care Act, but “chose not to do so”.
He ruled that the discrimination protections under Obamacare should only be interpreted as applying to discrimination based on sex assigned at birth.
Neese and Hurly were represented by America First Legal, which was founded to “oppose the radical left’s anti-jobs, anti-freedom, anti-faith, anti-borders, anti-police, and anti-American crusade”.
Following the ruling, America First legal founder Stephen Miller tweeted: “Huge litigation win for America First Legal. Federal judge just ruled that Biden’s edict forcing doctors to treat patients based on ‘gender identity’ and not scientific reality (eg chemical castration) is unlawful.
“Historic victory against gender lunacy and child abuse.”
Miller, who is also an advisor to Donald Trump, has been on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of far-right extremists since 2020.