The top court in the US has ruled that employers who fire workers for being gay or transgender are breaking the country’s civil rights laws.
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court said federal law, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, should be understood to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
The ruling is a major win for LGBT workers and their allies.
And it comes even though the court has become more conservative.
Lawyers for the employers had argued that the authors of the 1964 Civil Rights Act had not intended it to apply to cases involving sexual orientation and gender identity. The Trump administration sided with that argument.
But Judge Neil Gorsuch, who was nominated to the court by President Donald Trump, said acting against an employee on those grounds necessarily takes sex into account.
“An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex,” he wrote.
Members of the LGBT community across the US were celebrating on hearing the news.
‘An emotional day’
Sean K Heslin, Palm Springs, California
Today’s Supreme Court ruling brought me to tears.
As a gay man lucky enough to live in California and originally come from New York I’ve never had to personally worry about losing a job or not being hired simply because of my sexual orientation.
But as a financial adviser working with clients all around the country for over 30 years, I’ve heard countless stories of people who have lost their jobs simply for being gay. It’s angered and saddened me for so long.
For years now, I have been speaking at seminars or with friends and family about how in this day and age it’s still perfectly legal to fire someone just because they’re gay. Many people didn’t believe me. Until today.
What does the ruling mean?
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex as well as gender, race, colour, national origin and religion.
Under the Obama administration, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces the anti-discrimination law, said it included gender identity and sexual orientation. But the Trump administration has moved to roll back some protections in healthcare and other areas.
While some states in the US had already explicitly extended such protections to LGBT workers, many have not.
It’s difficult to overstate the significance of the decision.
While the court is establishing a long history of decisions expanding gay rights, this is the first time it spoke directly about the legal protections for transgender individuals.
That the ruling comes out just days after the Trump administration announced it was removing transgender health-insurance protections only puts the issue in stark relief.
Transgender rights is becoming a political battlefield, and a majority of the Supreme Court just announced which side it’s on.
LGBT advocates hailed the decision as the end of people hiding their sexuality at work.
“Especially at a time when the Trump administration is rolling back the rights of transgender people and anti-transgender violence continues to plague our nation, this decision is a step towards affirming the dignity of transgender people and all LGBTQ people,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president of GLAAD.
The American Civil Liberties Union shared a prepared statement from transgender plaintiff Aimee Stephens, who died last month. Her case was the first major transgender civil rights case heard by America’s top court.
“I am glad the court recognised that what happened to me is wrong and illegal,” Ms Stephens said. “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 our society.”
But the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian non-profit that asked the court to hear Ms Stephens’ case, said it was disappointed in the ruling.
It warned it would “create chaos and enormous unfairness for women and girls in athletics, women’s shelters and many other contexts”.
What did the court say?
In his opinion, Mr Gorsuch said such matters were not before the court.
“The only question before us is whether an employer who fires someone for being homosexual or transgender has discharged or otherwise discriminated against that individual ‘because of such individual’s sex’,” he wrote.
The answer, he said, was “clear” – even if such a scenario had not been anticipated when the law was written.
“It is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex,” he wrote.
Three conservative justices opposed the ruling: Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh.
What are the cases?
The ruling resolves three cases brought by people who said they had been fired after their employers learned they were gay or transgender.
Ms Stephens had previously presented as a man at work for six years before writing a letter to colleagues saying she would return to work “as my true self, Aimee Australia Stephens, in appropriate business attire”.
Two weeks later, Ms Stephens was fired for insisting in working in women’s clothes.
In a court filing last year, the funeral home owner argued it wanted Ms Stephens to comply with a dress code “applicable to Stephens’ biological sex”.
A lower court sided with Ms Stephens.
Donald Zarda, a skydiving instructor from New York who died in a skydiving accident in 2014, had filed one of the other cases.
He was dismissed after joking with a female client with whom he was tandem-diving not to worry about the close physical contact because he was “100% gay”.
The company maintained he was fired because he shared personal information with a client, not because he was gay, but a court in New York ruled in Mr Zarda’s favour.
Gerald Bostock, a former child welfare services co-ordinator from Georgia, lost his job after joining a gay recreational softball league, thereby publicly revealing his sexual orientation.
His employer, Clayton County, said his dismissal was the result of “conduct unbecoming of a county employee”.
Mr Bostock lost his discrimination case in a federal court in Atlanta.
Other key moments in US LGBT history
Jan 1958 – US Supreme Court rules for first time in favour of LGBT rights, saying an LGBT magazine, deemed obscene by the FBI and postal service, had First Amendment rights
July 1961 – Illinois becomes first state to decriminalise homosexuality
June 1969 – Protests begin after police raid Stonewall Inn in New York City, now seen as start of gay rights movement
Sept 1996 – President Clinton defines marriage as union between “one man and one woman”
June 2003 – US Supreme Court determines sodomy laws to be unconstitutional
Oct 2009 – Democratic President Obama signs Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr Hate Crimes Law, expanding hate crime laws to include sexual orientation
June 2015 – US Supreme Court rules 5-4 that same-sex marriage is legal across the country
June 2016 – The Pentagon lifts its ban on transgender Americans serve in the military
March 2018 – Republican President Trump issues a policy banning transgender Americans from serving in military
It is clear the process for buying a non-fungible token (NFT) still has its imperfections. Or so a BBC reporter revealed in a recent article, in which she lambasted the purchase as “a nightmare.”
BBC Technology Reporter Cristina Criddle recently shared her experiences buying a CryptoKitty NFT on OpenSea. Beginning with the excitement about purchasing and owning the digital artwork. But then slowly developing into a process the journalist found stressful and demoralizing.
Tangling with gas prices, the fluctuating price of the Ether (ETH) she used for the transaction, and being left waiting for the sale to be approved. As she put it, “The whole experience sucked all the fun out of my fluffy pink friend.”
Criddle’s article then revealed that she was not the only one reeling from their NFT purchase experience. Complaints of transactions getting stuck or delayed, and losing money while their tokens value decline or gas prices rise. It leads to the question, are these teething problems? Or can mass adoption even happen for NFTs? While some believe that they are wildly misunderstood, others opine that NFTs should become more user-friendly for mass adoption.
NFTs making their mark
Whether the opinions about mass adoption are true or not, there is definitely a continually increasing enthusiasm and awareness for NFTs. Not least within their presence in the sport world.
The Hong Kong-based trading platform and app Crypto.com has unleashed a number of NFT collections in 2021 alone. Tied directly to its expanding portfolio of sporting partnerships.
Long before Crypto.com’s foray into sport and NFTs, the NBA introduced Top Shot. An NFT phenomenon that, in Jan. 2021, surpassed CryptoKitties as the best-selling digital collectible by volume. A month later, they recorded daily NFT sales nearing $34 million. Hitting a 24-hour all-time high for trading volume at the same time.
All the information contained on our website is published in good faith and for general information purposes only. Any action the reader takes upon the information found on our website is strictly at their own risk.
Dale Hurst is a journalist, presenter, and novelist. Before joining the Be In Crypto team, he was an editor and senior journalist at a news, lifestyle and human-interest magazine in the UK. Cryptocurrency was one of the first subjects he specialized in when first going freelance in 2018, reviewing exchanges and analysing lawsuits.
We’ll make a valid point about Bitcoin mining using this story, we promise. This one would be hilarious if there wasn’t a crime involved. So, don’t laugh. We’re serious. In the United Kingdom, the West Midlands Police received a tip about a warehouse. Ventilation ducts and wiring were visible and multiple people visited the facilities […]
We’ll make a valid point about Bitcoin mining using this story, we promise. This one would be hilarious if there wasn’t a crime involved. So, don’t laugh. We’re serious.
In the United Kingdom, the West Midlands Police received a tip about a warehouse. Ventilation ducts and wiring were visible and multiple people visited the facilities at various times of the day. According to the Birmingham Mail, “A police drone also picked up a major heat source when it flew overhead.”
So, naturally, they assumed it was a clandestine Cannabis farm. These are all “classic cannabis factory signs,” according to the police department in question. To their surprise, there was no living being in there. To announce what they found, let’s give the mic to the BBC:
Officers had been tipped off about the site on the Great Bridge Industrial Estate, Sandwell, and raided it on 18 May, West Midlands Police said.
Instead of cannabis plants they found a bank of about 100 computer units.
Those “computer units” were ASIC miners. So, it’s safe to assume this was a Bitcoin mining operation. That’s funny, we know, but don’t laugh because here comes the crime. The West Midlands Police informs:
The IT equipment was seized and enquiries with Western Power revealed the electric supply had been bypassed and thousands of pounds worth had been stolen to power the ‘mine’.
You Either Find Cheap Energy Or You Steal It And Go To Jail
Reading this story, it’s easy to use it to demonize Bitcoin mining. Nevertheless, let’s be honest: there are criminals in every field of life. In every business, there are people who try to get ahead by skipping steps, cutting corners, and even breaking the law. And, as this story shows, those people seldom make it. One way or another, they end up falling.
Another read of this particular incident is this one: Energy is the main expense for Bitcoin miners. In big cities, said energy is expensive. So much so, that a mining operation might not be profitable. There are two options for those entrepreneurs: You either find cheap energy or you steal it and go to jail.
Inquiring minds might ask, where is this cheap energy? Everywhere where there’s a surplus of energy, that’s where. In some areas, there’s even wasted energy. The economic incentive for Bitcoin mining entrepreneurs to move to those areas is so immense, that they have to do it. It will happen because it’s inevitable.
You don’t have to believe us. Let’s quote the West Midlands Police with their first-hand information:
Sandwell Police Sergeant Jennifer Griffin, said: “It’s certainly not what we were expecting! It had all the hallmarks of a cannabis cultivation set-up and I believe it’s only the second such crypto mine we’ve encountered in the West Midlands.
“My understanding is that mining for cryptocurrency is not itself illegal but clearly abstracting electricity from the mains supply to power it is.
No one was inside the facility at the moment of the raid, so there are no arrests so far. The police seized the equipment and are still making inquiries.
Plans by Southern Water to build a £600 million desalination plant in the New Forest have come under fire from conservationists and other local groups.
The proposed plant is to be built on land near the utility’s wastewater treatment works at Ashlett Creek, near Fawley in Hampshire. If completed, it will extract salt water from the Solent and discharge brine back into the sea. Around 75 million litres of sea water per day will be processed, according to the utility, and the resultant drinking water will be pumped 25km underground to water supply works at Testwood.
Intended to supply residents in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, the plan is presented as part of the utility’s response to climate change and population growth. Alternative sources need to be found to the Test and Itchen rivers, “two of the fines chalk streams in the world” as the firm’s Toby Wilson put it, in comments made to the BBC.
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HIWWT) has expressed concern that the plant could threaten wildlife habitats in the area. In a letter to Southern Water, the group’s Dr Tim Ferrero said: “The increased salinity of the brine could cause changes to the chemical composition of the surrounding water, impacting a wide range of marine species and potentially impacting the passage of migratory fish species into nearby river catchments.” He also raised the issue of potential algae build-ups.
A local petition had received over 1,800 signatures in early May, which expressed the view that it would be better to invest in improvements to the collection and storage of rainwater.
Opponents also criticised the energy-hungry nature of the technology, as well as the huge cost. Desalination remains a more familiar fixture in parts of the world where water is scarce, such as Saudi Arabia, although Thames Water constructed a plant in East London in 2010.
The plans also received a formal objection from The New Forest National Park Authority, which complained that it had not been consulted sooner – the proposal was selected as part of the utility’s Water Resources Management Plan in 2019.
The firm told the local Hampshire newspaper the Daily Echo: “We are working with our environmental regulators to understand any environmental impact of the proposals and ways we can mitigate them.”
NFTs were arguably already taking off when Beeple sold his NFT artwork for $69m. But another crypto project attracted attention when it bought an original Banksy artwork for $95,000.
The group literally burnt the artwork and sold its NFT on the OpenSea platform for $400,000. Although the stunt was covered by CBS News, BBC News, The Guardian, and others, it did actually make a significant point.
By removing the physical piece, the group – calling itself “Burnt Banksy” – proved that the value of the piece wasn’t affected by being destroyed, given that the NFT went up so much in value.
Now that project is turning that stunt into an actual blockchain platform for art auctions.
Burnt Finance says it has raised $3 Million for a decentralized auction protocol built on the Solana blockchain.
The project is being incubated by Injective Protocol (which recently raised $10 from investors and Mark Cuban, as well as Multicoin, DeFiance, Alameda, Mechanism, Vessel Capital, Hashkey, Spartan, Do Kwon (CEO of Terra), Sandeep (COO of Polygon), and others.
The reason why it’s worth mentioning all this is that in trying to auction the painting, the Burnt Banksy group stumbled on an increasing problem in the world of NFTs: the rising congestion on the Ethereum network is leading to larger and larger gas fees. This is making both the creation and bidding on NFTs increasingly expensive, just from a baseline.
As a result, team decided to build the Burnt Finance NFT auction platform away from Etherum and hit upon the Solana blockchain, which has comparatively good speed, performance, and lower transaction costs. It will use ‘Solana Wormhole’ which connects ETH and ERC20 tokens to SPL Tokens.
A spokesperson for Burnt Finance, ‘Burnt Banksy’ told me: “Most auctions are Ethereum based, and currently the Ethereum gas fees are extremely high. It can cost you up to $70 to make an artwork, which doesn’t work if you’re selling an NFT for $50. We chose Solana mainly because of the ecosystem. It’s fast-growing, in addition to the technical aspect of it.”
There’s another reason why we may see other Crypto projects move away from Ethereum as ETH rises in price and as gas fees increase: the potential for bad faith actors in NFT auctions.
If a bad actor tries to leverage the congestion on Ethereum and manipulate the transaction fee, they might sway the results of an auction. This would be quite something, if the auction was for, say, $69 million…